Trope-a-Day: The Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone: Played straight, although given the nature of the stargate plexus as, essentially, a mesh network, it’s not so much a zone, but a list of Neutral Nexi.  No-one tries to enforce deep space as a neutral zone, mostly because it’s just too damn big and remote to patrol – unless someone leaks the existence of a hidden base out there, anyway.

It’s not even all that common as an entire constellation – usually, the list of Neutral Nexi is a thin surface one system thick, or even a single chokepoint system – because it’s rare for any powers to bother developing the wormhole infrastructure to connect them so intimately to their enemies.  Although there is the Seam as a whole, and particularly the Csell Buffer, which was a semi-developed constellation going by the name of the Csell Reach in between the Galith Waste and Voniensan space shortly before the Silicate Tree turned up and claimed the Galith Waste, and then Things Did Not Go So Well.

Welcome to the Seam

“The Seam” refers to the region of the Associated Worlds in direct contact with the Voniensa Republic, consisting of the Crimson Expanse, the Vanguard Reaches, and Csell Buffer constellations on our side of the border, and Vonis 31, Vonis 36, and Vonis 41 on the Republic side.  The Borderline arterial runs down our side from Istria (Crimson Expanse) to Quor (Csell Buffer) via Karal (Vanguard Reaches), and those three systems have Imperial naval depots in them.  They’re safe.

The Borderline route and the links back into the rest of the Worlds are heavily patrolled.  They’re mostly safe, as are some of the systems other navies base out of – depending on where you’re from, of course – and the freesoil world Ódeln (Vanguard Reaches), the principal entrepôt between the Republic and the Worlds.

The rest of the Seam?  Well, it’s a nice place for pirates and perversions, raiders and Renegades, and smugglers, snakeheads, and spies.  Also unbonded mercs, slavers, black labs, blacknet nodes, survivalists, the crazier kind of cult colony, and everyone else with a good reason not to be found – and the people trying to find them.  And it’s a not so nice place for the law, insurance companies, and anyone who’s not a walking arsenal.

No, not like the worst bits of the Expansion Regions.  Worse than that.  With the Conclave and the Republic staring each other down across the border, waiting for each other to blink, and twitching every time a decent-sized military ship moves towards the Supposedly Demilitarized Border Zone, no-one’s investing any time in bringing civilization or even keeping the peace hereabouts.

Good places to visit in the Seam?  If you fit any of the above description, you already know where you’re going.  If you don’t, for the love of Flame and Star, go somewhere else.  Even if you’re fixing to die, Nepscia’s cheaper.

– Around the Worlds on ¤1,000 per Sol