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Sansterre

by Pete Gray

Starport Class A, Regency Naval Base
Diameter 7731 Miles
Atmosphere Standard with heavy sulfide taint
Surface Water 100%
Climate Very Cold
Population 3.34 Billion
Government Democracy
Law Level 3
Tech Level 11

Sansterre was the first world colonised from Amondiage, and the beginning of the diaspora of French speakers into the rest of the Islands. The world has virtually no dry land (hence the name "Sansterre", literally "no land"), for active undersea volcanism prevents the accumulation of dry land for long periods. Despite this barrier, the colonists constructed a base on the worlds moon, and used it to build floating habitats. Most of the current population lives in massive "pontoon" cities that are advanced, giant descendants of the original settlements, or in huge mobile submersibles that anchor themselves temporarily to any stable section of the sea floor. Several large orbital habitats also exist, and house much of the world's industrial base.

Of all of the ESA colonised worlds, Sansterre has tried hardest to remain faithful to its progenitor culture. Which is to say its indestructibly French in its outlook on culture, and its interest in the intellect. Despite this loyalty, and the "fossilised" local French dialect, cultural gaps have been unavoidable. In antebellum times the world spurned offworld contact, actively harrased visiting offworlders and aliens, and tilted power towards a male-dominated hiearchy that favored militarism. The local government is the most pluralistic of all the Islands; but this is largely relative as suffrage was limited by the government to "rational" individuals (generally people favored by the military and bureaucracy), and government institutions are primitive for a democracy, with no developed parties and factions beyond feudalistic patronage machines.

When war erupted in 1106 between Neubayern and Serendip, Sansterre informally allied with its German neighbor, allowing them to concentrate on other enemies without fear of an additional front developing between them. This alliance allowed Sansterre to rip Amondiage's military into shreds, and to shield them from New Home aggression that was concentrating on Neubayern. The alliance fell apart in 1119, and a protracted fight with Neubayern and New Home over St. Genevieve drained it of irreplaceable military units. As the war dragged on, popular displeasure was turning into widespread dissent, and the militarists were totally discredited by the time the Regency intervened in 1140. Sansterre suffered few civilian losses or infrastructure damage, but the dominance of the military made its economy inefficient and slow in adapting to change, and much of the worlds industry was simply burned up by the emphasis upon the now futile war effort.

Sansterre has been transformed since contact with the Regency. The military and its testosterone culture has subsided in favor of a more moderate political structure, though patronage still dominates sexual equality has leveled the playing field. Contact was reinitiated with Neubayern in the 1180s, and a de facto peace treaty has permitted the resumption of trade with that world, exchanging locally harvested sea floor metals and edible aquatic life for dry land foodstuffs. The success of this arrangement prompted Serendip to initiate the Four-Power Talks in 1195, and trade has increased between all four worlds since then. Recently the Sansterre government has negotiated the purchase of a dozen new 5000 ton TL-12 bulk transports from Serendip, giving the world a modest but significant merchant marine for the first time since the war.


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