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Crescent

B420878-8

by Pete Grey

Travellers emerging from jumpspace are always greeted by the sickle shape of this world. Crescent closely orbits its primary, and insystem bound ships frequently precipitate at an optimum angle above the terminator. Its half full appearance must have struck the romantic fancy of the early Solomani colonists, and inspired the world's name.

Crescent is tidally locked with its primary, Glare, and its daylight temperatures exceed 400 degrees celsius. The darkside is a chilly -250 degrees. The twilight zone holds most, but not all, of the major settlements. The worlds very thin atmosphere is desiccated of all water, and the wind picks up atomised rock particles from either side of the planet, making it impossible to breate without atomisation. The local geological record indicates that the world once supported life, but it has been dead for about 2 billion years.

Crescent was settled around -250. Like so many of its neighbors in the Reach, the settlers were Rule of Man refugees fleeing the onset of the Long Night. The colonists arrived here in a simple sublight ship, with no other means to leave this inhospitable system, and simply resigned themselves to trying to eke out a life on the only sizeable body that could support their efforts.

The colonists were able to construct and maintain simple underground colonies, with a simple sustainable industrial technology. But shortages of organics and water for agriculture, and leadership differences between conflicting ideologies, slowly drove the settlements apart from one another. Some military conflict occured during the initial breakup, but irreperable damage inflicted on a pair of settlements by heavy artillery quickly dissuaded further violence, and subsequent secessions were carried out by referendum.

An unwritten code of conduct evolved out of this peaceful dissolution, followed by all the attendant parties and factions, that forbade all violence save as ritualised combat between designated forces within specified battlefields or arenas, and made the settlements off-limits to all weapons. By -210, a written set of accords codified these restrictions, and expanded rules on hospitality (each habitat is an open, neutral territory for all residents, regardless of affiliation), emergency aid (citizens will render aid to all persons in distress), life support use and intercolony policing. These rules were enforced by the threat that anyone violating them in a clear and unequivocal manner would be placed outside the law, and be subject to hostilities from every other party on the planet. The threat of punitive attack led to the creation of "outlaw" colonies within either the day or darksides, where expelled colonists resided in exile until they were either forgiven by their communities, or they died.

These restrictions led to division of the entire twilight zone from pole to pole into different quadrants, centered around every five degree change in latitude. Colonies within these zones are termed "Parallels", and are named according to their latitude and whether they are on the eastern or western terminator (example: Parallel 40 N/W is a colony at forty degrees north on the western terminator).

The IISS recontacted this world in 287, and were suprised at how well the indigenous population was getting along. Offworld contact was infrequent until late in the antebellum period. Aside from a few low-tech industrial goods, the locals had little to trade, and only needed a few selected trade goods to satisfy their own needs. Offworld contact was complicated by heavy-handed Imperial and Zhodani attempts at influencing the various local factions, which generally gained nothing and alienated the locals to the point of isolationism.

The world's main importance since the end of the Fourth Frontier War has been as a trade conduit for traffic moving between the Florian League and the Marches interface. The B-class starport is an orbital facility in geosynchronous orbit over the darkside equator, at an equal distance from each Parallel to maintain unity. The world is highly hospitable to ship crews and travellers regardless of nationality or race. Life remains hard for most of the locals, and the settlements have been carefully investing money from customs and port fees to steadily improve the local standard of living.

Crescent has become a major psionic training center since the Collapse, and hosts instructors and researchers from both the Regency and the Zhodani Consulate.


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