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by Pete Gray

Starport: Class E
Diameter: 968 Miles
Atmosphere: Very Thin, with high oxygen content
Surface Water: 4%
Climate: Cold
Population: 403.4 Million
Government: Subjugated (ruled by Regency appointed council)
Law Level: 9
Tech Level: 5

Topas is a cold, barren rock of little intrinsic value. But its settlement reflects the astrographic destiny of the Islands: beggars cannot be choosers. In the old sublight days a world was a world no matter what its physical characteristics. Mostly Germanic in culture, the original population settled the world with unusual organisation and stoicism. Unable to core out the asteroid sized world, the colonists instead constructed a kaninchengehege ("rabbits lair") of winding tunnels, vaults and underground lairs for habitation.

Mindful of the lack of water and breathable air, a strict bureaucractic government was imposed to manage and maintain the hydroponics and air plants located in the rocky core of the world. Education is highly regimented, and once a person begins a career, they are expected to work in it for the rest of their lives. Success brings appropriate shelter and status, failure results in near starvation toiling as a lowly hydroponics laborer. This "you work, you eat" ethic has created a very tough minded and determined people who evince no fear in the face of adversity. But it did not create as much political unity as it should have, and in the antebellum period the government and population was divided into two factions, one Pro-Serendip and the other Pro-Neubayern, who wished for offworld intervention as a means of improving local living standards. This division led to a coup by the Pro-Serendip faction that sparked the long nightmare of the Islands War, a travail that hasn't ended for Topas.

Currently large parts of the kaninchengehege are still under the de facto control of armed insurgents and offworld soldiers loyal to either Serendip or Neubayern. The original planetary administration has been ground into dust between these two millstones, and effective control has passed into an RQS caretaker administration appointed from Tobia. Like their ancestors, both factions are tough minded and determined, and are unwilling to accept compromise. Reconciliation has been further complicated by extremists on Neubayern and Serendip intent upon sabotaging the Four-Power Talks, and reigniting the Islands War.

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