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by Pete Grey

The Torinsk system is relatively empty. The system's four gas giants have elliptical orbits that prevented planetary formation from occuring close to the primary. The system contains a mere five orbits, all of them occupied by the giants, or the local asteroid belt. The belt more than makes up for the systems lack of other attractions. While not as extensive as Mahir's belt, Torinsk contains a higher concentration of nickel-iron meteorites, and is therefore more cost efficient in terms of explotaition costs and return on investment.

Torinsk was Xenough's first imperial possession, and a colony was first established in 340. Interestingly, Zhodani belters had bypassed the system for the seemingly richer Mahir system, and Xenough's colonists found the system relatively untouched. The Zhodani's minimisation of it wealth initially colored Avalaran prejudices as well, and concentrated their military efforts in the Xenough Wars towards Hepring and Mahir. This disinterest permitted a less stringent local government, and more extensive and variegated technological and industrial development. A nascent shipbuilding industry took hold, and eventually eclipsed the mining industry in importance.

This relaxed scrutiny also lent a degree of impunity for local military units. Military shipyards were built, and constructed an increasing number of raiding vessels that were used by the Xenough Navy against Avalaran shipping. The growing presence of military facilities insystem finally attracted major Avalaran attention, and the system was captured during the last Xenough War. The Battle of Torinsk crippled the Xenough war effort, but inflicted so many losses upon the Avalars that an armistice had to be declared. In the peace that followed, the Torinsk Cluster was absorbed into the Consulate, where they remain thorny and difficult neighbors.

The Avalar government has made little headway in assimilating the Torinsk worlds primarily because of its heavy handed diplomatic and domestic efforts in Torinsk itself. All of Xenough's colonies recieved nominal independence, though in fact they acted as loyal subordinates to their motherworld even after the fact. Seeking to sever these ties, the Consulate's Shanza secret police had endeavored to subvert and undermine the new governments. Tight security (and strict psionic regulations) on Xenough and Mahir prevented successful operations on those worlds, and the Syndari government of Hepring was zealously nationalistic. Their efforts, while futile, have in many cases further antagonised the Xenough government and its allies to enact further anti-Avalar activities and policies.

But Torinsk's relatively light security, and a growing community of Avalaran immigrants, permitted the Shanza a power base. A large Avalaran naval base was constructed to conceal and support their efforts. Under various economic and military pressure, and through careful identification and elevation of dissident elements of the local Kopol, a strongly pre-Avalar government of one kind or another has reigned in Torinsk. The cost of this subversion has been strong distrust and intercommunal violence among local power factions, and a intermittent power struggle that reerupts under various outside stimuli, whether sanctioned by the Avalar government or not. The local government, regardless of its incarnation, has little or no support among the general population, and are only propped up by generous subsidies from the Shanza and the Consulate Navy. Moreover, each government has proven wildly ineffectual in removing loyalty among the local castes from Xenough, and most of the local economy and culture have gone underground. Taxation and regulation are virtually unenforceable, except under the gun shadow of the regime's imported mercenaries and supporting Avalaran Naval patrols. The current regime was established in 1145, after the overthrow of the previous pro-Xenough government.

The local populace is deeply suspicious of outsiders, especially anyone associated with the local Avalar community or the government. Armaments are forbidden to the local population, security checkpoints are interspersed around the system, and armed patrols regularly sweep the systems settlements for contraband and anti-regime propaganda. These efforts have been futile in rooting out local nationalists, and attempts at suppressing smuggling of exports and tax money back to Xenough are a constant source of local humor. Most minor indigenous officials are either quietly loyal to Xenough, and many Avalars are on the take or look the other way out of resignation. Popular opinion in the Consulate regards the national government's covert operations on Torinsk as a waste of time and money, but official hubris has prevented a withdrawal from the system.

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