The Fastnesses are a group of six worlds which survived the Scream and the Silence in relatively good shape, thanks largely to the Great Archive Tekke of Mizah, originally a training facility established by the Terran Mandate to ensure frontier colonists had access to Earth’s art, history and technical training. Now, it is a semi-monastic order dedicated to preserving and sharing knowledge – neighbouring worlds can expect a visit by an Archive surveyor crew every couple of months, and have been uplifted to a uniform standard of technology over the past century by Preceptor Adepts.
Some fifty years ago, a breakaway group decided it was better to sell knowledge than give it away, and formed the Mizah Combine. The tension between the Combine and the Archive drives local politics, which is further complicated by envoys from both the Confederation and the Hierate, either of which would welcome Mizah as an ally.
WORLDS OF THE FASTNESSES
Kov: Gas giant. Population descended from Terran Mandate gas miners, living in repurposed mining platforms at the 1,000 mB level; breather mask and cold weather gear needed to go outside. Native life-forms can all fly, and can grow to enormous size. Fierce rivalry between cities for resources; anarchic nihilist warlords. Proceed with caution.
Mizah: Garden world; trade hub; famous for high-quality starships. Political tension between ruling Phoenix Party (centre left, links to Preceptor Archive) and Free Trade Party (far right, links to Mizah Combine). Capital city Zonguldak’s Charsi District is an English-speaking ghetto for port workers, ship crews, and mercenaries, 25 km from Erdemir Spaceport.
Omaro: Settled by a Japanese cult which died out during the Silence; now a research outpost run by Mizah’s Great Archive and the University of Zonguldak. Lobster-like alien animals.
Salia: Former Terran Mandate research facility investigating vast, echoing alien ruins, thought to be at least 40,000 years old. Arid wastes beyond the capital La Franja largely unexplored, said to be inhabited by outcasts and the legendary El Duplicar, an alien doppelganger alleged to kill those who wander off alone and assume their shape.
Simba: High-gravity snowball world, completely glaciated. Capital city and spaceport, Peponi, is built in mountaintop caverns. Breather mask and cold weather gear needed to go outside. Katabatic winds gust well over 100 kph; landing is dangerous. Native life highly aggressive and capable of bursts of great speed. Proceed with caution.
Tangga: Airless, frozen surface covered in bizarre rock formations resembling step pyramids. Harsh environment used by local government to justify intrusive surveillance and heavy-handed policing. Proceed with caution.