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by Pete Grey

Settled in the aftermath of the Psi Supressions as a sort of last resort colony. Mostly covered by water, with most of the landmass scattered large islands and archipelagoes. Most of the land came under the domination of the colonial bureaucracy, which soon evolved into a fuedal system of bickering landlords. This fuedal arrangement is known as the Custodiate, and consists of an elite council of landed and hereditary peers who represent the population as a whole. The Custodiate debates and deliberates issues of common interest to all of the lords, sets taxation, maintains a common legal code and judiciary, and resolves disputes between various landlords. The Common people have no voice in government, and the Custodiate successfully derailed popular agitation during the Representational Reforms.

Lakou's economy is primarily animal husbandry and truck farming. Low population densities guaranteed that local communities would be tied to their lords landholds. The lack of transportation infrastructure, and the indifferent attitude of their lords created isolation and seperation between these communities, laying the foundation for conflict. Frequent fighting over land and water resources escalated into mini-wars engulfing entire regions of the surface.

The increase in TL, and the Representational Reforms actually exaceberated local tensions. In the last twenty years, about a dozen small wars have erupted between the most powerful landlords. Most of these attempts take the form of "filibustering" by offworld mercs who infiltrate a rival landhold, posing as seasonal workers or legitimate security troops, and launch an uprising in the name of their actual employers.

Offworld analysts doubt if this upswing in violence is merely coincidental, citing evidence of involvement by offworld speculators and oppurtunists. Many mercenary units involved have been of professional standing greater than what the locals need or are able to afford. If it is an offworld powerplay, by either business interests on Mirriam, or former megacorp personnel carrying out an independent enterprise, it is have unintended side effects.

In the last five years or so, a growing proportion of the landlords' tenants and retainers have been abandoning their posts and jobs, and striking off on their own. Most of these people were originally promised land and a secure life of their own as part of their lords contractual obligations to their retainers. But the fighting coupled with their lieges tightening control over their lives has created a grassroots reaction. Calling themselves "Freeholders", these people have been seizing unused or unclaimed land, often with assistance from merc units stranded onplanet after failed filibusters. The tension and conflict this has created with the ruling Custodiate adds an even more lethal layer to the world's Amber Zone rating.

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