A Particularly Rotten Haystack (2)

If I ever again have to figure out how to program a cornucopia to produce pre-damaged goods, at least I won’t be starting from scratch.

I ventured outside Sanctuary today in pursuit of what records there were of the landing points of the refugee shipments that might have included my client’s family.  As I said, there’s no data connectivity out there, and most have no use for currency, so I took goods for barter – ration bars, medicines, batteries, ammunition.  Bad move.  My disguise might have held up, but these people can spot new goods from a mile away.

Half the govgang I tried trading for information with wanted to grab me for ransom; the other half just wanted the cornucopia.  I got a head start while they were debating the issue, but – well, fortunately the prefabs they were using still recognized the default configuration codes.  No reason to change them without a local ‘net, I suppose.  I only had to kill half a dozen to get away clean.

I’ll try the next target tomorrow – with appropriately resealed, used, and battered goods, to the eye, anyway.  With luck, I won’t have to go back to that sector to find them.

– log of <trill-trill click-warble-whistle>, inquisitive, on Márch (Innia Rise)

A Particularly Rotten Haystack (1)

Grounded at Sanctuary on Márch (Innia Rise).

Just for future reference, let me quote the description of this world from the Directory:

“Márch — while not the oldest or largest of the freesoil worlds, Márch is certainly the most notorious.  After the Accord on Refuge-Seeking Sophonts was firmly rejected by the Conclave (on the Presidium, the Photonic Network was unwilling to build special facilities to accommodate meat intelligences, and the Empire declared that it had standards; meanwhile, powers such as the Rim Free Zone that were willing to accommodate refugees were, by and large, unwilling or unable to pay for them), the Conclave Commission on Refuge-Seeking Sophonts obtained title to this marginal oxygen-breather’s garden world, and chartered it as a special colony to house refugees unable to return, or not permitted to return, to their homelands – funded and governed in condominium by the Commission powers.”

“While the colony operated for a while in accordance with this idealistic beginning, before long conflicts arose between different refugee populations rehomed on Márch, due to existing disputes or competition for the limited resources made available by the Commission powers to the Márch Authority, and the Authority also encountered difficulties policing insurgent groups operating within the Márchian volume.  Meanwhile, the population of Márch ballooned as various authoritarian polities discovered that a convenient way to rid themselves of dissidents or unwanted minority groups was to ship them to Márch, often using old automated freighters with just enough canned life support to get their passengers to Márch orbit.”

“Under these pressures, such stable governance as Márch enjoyed broke down.  Today, the Márch Authority retains control only over the planet’s primary starport and the attached administrative city of Sanctuary.  While they continue to distribute supplies and occasionally intervene in severe cases of mass violence, in practice the remainder of the planet and its approximately 1 billion sophonts are divided into a large number of mutually hostile ethnic and political enclaves.  With the exception of a few large and unusually cohesive enclaves whose quasi-official governments are able to exert meaningful sovereign control, these enclaves operate as an unmutual semi-tribal anarchy under red market conditions.  Very little of the planet outside Sanctuary is supplied with even basic utilities.  Large-scale communications or other data functions are nonexistent.  Poverty, squalor, and disease abound.”

Which amounts to this – while I remain confident of finding my client’s missing family, it’s going to take rather more time and money than I initially estimated.  And certainly rather more violence.

– log of <trill-trill click-warble-whistle>, inquisitive