Vordon: Planet of Adventure!

Ultimate Argument Risk Control welcomes you to Vordon (Lis Corridor), also known as Merchome, and hopes your stay will be an enjoyable and profitable one!

Whether you are, are looking to hire, or are looking to be hired by a mercenary company, our many talented brokers can find the contract that is right for you. Our partnerships with weapons brokers and vehicle manufacturers from Artifice Armaments, ICC, through Hectatonlon, JSC, guarantee your ability to resupply and upgrade your materiel, and facilities for training and exercises are available to you at reasonable —

Blah, blah, blah, and I ripped out the next three pages of sales pitch.

For your safety, Ultimate Argument Risk Control recommends that you remain within the bounds of the city of Plenary, capital of Vordon, where Imperial law is in effect and security is guaranteed by the personal pledge of the Executive Director for Private Planetary Affairs.

Affectionately known as “Mister Signature” to us, and even his salarymen have been heard to use the name.

Beyond the dome of Plenary, by special permission, only the Contract and the Market Peace are in effect.

Enforcement of these outside Plenary, except for UARC’s own facilities, is contracted out to copmerc companies currently in garrison and in need of cash flow. As such, it tends to be a little rough and ready – and is always subordinate to UARC corporate security.

Of course, if you wanted safety, why in the name of Orchaya’s carbon-scored tits did you come to Merchome!?

The Planet Itself

Vordon is a postsylithic world in the final stages of planetary senescence.

In other words: “it’s a bunk planet, so we got it cheap”.

From space, the planet resembles a yellow-swirled marble, an impression only redoubled upon reaching the surface: vast deserts of yellow-orange sand stretch between the remains of mountain ranges worn down to bare hillocks, and the dusty basins of long-vanished oceans. The sky, too, is yellow with dust born aloft by sluggish wind, which serves the valuable function of helping to block out some of the radiation allowed to reach the surface by the weak magnetic field generated by Vordon’s long-cooled core.

So just being outside is one way to tell who’s been properly maintaining the seals on their field equipment.

A thin oxygen atmosphere is maintained by remnant life deep beneath the former ocean basins, supplemented in most buildings by positive pressurization; those unused to the conditions routinely suffer from altitude sickness for their first weeks on-planet. While the winds of Vordon are typically mild, periods of flare activity on the system primary have been known to stir up violent cyclonic storms capable of sandblasting exposed equipment and flesh alike.

As is the case for many postsylithic worlds, Vordon was previously inhabited by a civilization now long since extinct. Extensive studies carried out before UARC obtained title to the planet have found only fragmentary remains too eroded to be of archaeological interest. UARC assures all visitors that there is no treasure to be found anywhere on Vordon’s surface, and advises that rescue and paramedical services are not available in Vordon’s wilderness except by private contract.

Hiring yourself out to treasure hunters may seem like easy work, but they tend to run out of money before they pay you, then whine when you leave them behind. Not recommended.

Vordon has three small moons, all asteroid captures. One, Vorwatch, is reserved by UARC for servicing corporate starships; the others, Vorguard and Vorsentry, are leased in sections to mercenary companies in need of starship berthing of their own.

Notable Regions: Plenary

The capital of Vordon is the city of Plenary, located at the edge of a mountain range running down one of Vordon’s continental mesas. Ultimate Argument Risk Control domed over an impact crater to create the city, adding an open starport to its north fully capable of handling heavy-lift vehicles and dropships.

Beneath its dome, Plenary is the shining jewel in UARC’s crown, a lush garden in Vordon’s desert wilderness. To representatives of our corporate and sovereign clients, we recommend the elegant waterfront hotels along the Sanguine Canal, which are fully equipped to handle guests of any known race. Our corporate concierge offers a booking service which guarantees that representatives will not be housed in uncomfortable proximity to their declared enemies, and our security services offer full protection against assassination during your stay, along with complimentary reinstantiation in the rare event that this protection fails. For less pecunious visitors, a variety of comfortable exodochia can be found on the first and second sublevels.

“Less pecunious”. Hah.

They’re very proud of their company town. To those of us less enamored with the starcorporate way of thinking, this shining jewel is better known as “suit central”, “client plush”, and “how am I still awake?”

The center of the city is the Spire of Glorious and Profitable Battle, known as “the Battlespire” for short. This 460-floor edifice, penetrating the dome at its highest point, presides over the lesser offices and commercial buildings at its knees with power and undeniable style.

There’s a reason a nameless but literate comrade nicknamed it the Baculum many years back, and even now, it’s generally known outside the corporation as “the Baccy”. Mostly affectionately – they may have one, but they usually aren’t one.

While UARC’s corporate headquarters remains in Titan Station (Lumenna-Súnáris System), the upper floors of the Battlespire serve as the headquarters for our mercenary brokerage division, with the Executive Director in permanent residence and other members of the Directorate visiting frequently. Lower floors, open to the public, house offices for our escrow, bonding, arbitration, sales, referral, information brokerage, and other services.

The remainder of the city, other than its residential districts, is home to offices for many of UARC’s partners and other corporations doing business on Vordon, including many of its most profitable and reputable mercenary companies. Its commercial areas offer for sale virtually any weapons system, military vehicle, or other materiel legal for use somewhere in the Worlds, many of them customized on-planet in the factory sublevels.

Since it’s also visited by many of us honest mercenaries who may be hard to distinguish at first sight from the less honest kind, it also holds the galactic record for autocannons per square meter.

You also can’t get the ammunition for anything larger than a personal weapon in those commercial areas. You can have it delivered to you in Plenary Camp, or to a transport in orbit, but not in the city itself.

Notable Regions: Plenary Camp

Surrounding the dome of Plenary itself for miles is Plenary Camp, a broad ring of barracks, laagers, airstrips, training grounds, and other military appurtenances; the home when in garrison of Vordon’s residential mercenaries, and including the offices of those companies which have chosen not to secure space within Plenary itself.

Or have other reasons not to pay for space at 250 exval per soph-square-month. Can’t imagine what those would be.

In Plenary Camp, while most management is left up to the individual base owners, the Contract and Market Peace are enforced by mercenaries contracted by UARC’s Planetary Security subdivision.

Aside from shared infrastructure, there is little else to be found in Plenary Camp. Over the years, most entertainment has moved to the nearby city of Ossiltun’s Victory (see below).

Because there’s only so much of a good time you can have under the eyes of your competitors’ armbands.

The entertainment they’re not telling you about is what used to be the Branta’s Bashers parade ground before they got shot up on Turech, now known to one and all as Sorehead Square, or by other names more profane. This is the chunk of land where the current copmercs like to herd all the green-cored mushheads who have issues with us honest fighting-sophs and our business existing at all, and have come all the way to Vordon to tell us about it. Bad publicity likely to ensue if you let them mix with the bored, offended, or easily amused grunts, after all.

It’s also why UARC changes out the copmercs every few months. They do love to fight among themselves over the right way to be pacifist, and it doesn’t take long for the armbands to stop refereeing the fights and start placing bets on them.

The UARC Sophont Relations department strictly forbids all mercenaries on the planet from hiring themselves out to any side in these internecine disputes, no matter how ironic it might be. Spoilsports.

Notable Regions: The Ranges

UARC has designated dozens of large areas of varied terrain on the continent north of Plenary as weapons-testing ranges and sites available for live-fire exercises. If you or your company wishes to make use of these facilities, please contact the scheduling office in the Battlespire for more information and to make a booking.

UARC strongly recommends that, despite the large uninhabited regions of Vordon, you do not plan weapons testing or live-fire exercises in locations other than the designated ranges. Liability for any harm done off a designated range rests with you, and Planetary Security, their contractees, and others, are free to respond to perceived threats with overwhelming force.

Some cash-strapped mercs and Rooktown denizens consider these a good place to scavenge. Since they’re almost continuously in use and rescue services are only available in between exercises, this is only a good idea if you’ve always wanted a career as a pop-up target. Spying on the competition pays better, but isn’t much more survivable.

Notable Regions: Ossiltun’s Victory

A thousand miles east of Plenary Camp, connected via maglev tube, is the city of Ossiltun’s Victory. Unlike Plenary, it was never intended as a city; rather, it traces its origin to the Five-Minute War of 6371. Following the loss by government forces to the rebellion in the nearby Mmpha Gerontocracy (now the Mmpha Mandate), the remnant forces of the Gerontocracy under Half-Admiral Ossiltun attempted a vengeance attack against what they perceived as the home planet of the mercenary forces which enabled the rebel victory.

And brilliant ideas like this, kids, are why you should always fight for money.

Having failed to properly assess the hazards of attacking what was, even then, one of the Worlds’ greatest concentrations of military force, Ossiltun’s fleet was destroyed extremely rapidly by the assembled spacegoing forces gathered on Vorguard and accompanying fire from the surface.

The Admiral’s flagship, the dreadnought GNS Scourge of Isskill, was fortunate enough to escape immediate destruction, but interruption of a maneuvering burn left it in a decaying orbit which terminated six hours later in a debris trail crossing several hundred miles of ground, ending at the largest intact fragment of the hulk. This collection of debris was unceremoniously looted by the defending coalition.

Shortly thereafter, an enterprising group of camp followers acquired rights to the hulk fragment, and making use of its salvage and remaining power machinery, the modern city of Ossiltun’s Victory was born.

Consisting of various suburbs around the reshaped hulk, largely constructed from prefabs and repurposed shipping containers, Ossiltun’s Victory includes Vordon’s secondary starport, the headquarters of several mercenary companies which prefer to maintain a greater degree of visible independence from UARC (primary among these is Kestal’s Raiders, whose HQ shares the hulk itself with the town’s civil administration and largest tavern, the Bloated Floater), and a wide variety of recreational services.

What they mean is “best booze, whores, and gambling on the planet”. Best drinks are at Dallie Lim’s – the drinks aren’t watered, the games are half-honest, and he only screws you where you can see. Tell him I sent you.

Stay away from Kabalga’s, though. My cloaca still itches, treatment be damned.

[A second hand, below, disagrees profanely and content-freely with the latter assessment.]

Notable Regions: Rooktown

Located thirty miles north of Ossiltun’s Victory, “Rooktown” is a temporary squatter encampment. UARC apologizes for its presence, and recommends that it be avoided by all visitors to Vordon. Steps are being undertaken to deal with the problem.

Translating that from the corpocratese: Rooktown is where the wannamercs rejected by all the recruiters on the planet end up, and yes, that does mean it’s full of psych cases who’re the wrong kind of crazy for this job. The “steps being undertaken” are that every time the noise gets too loud, Mister Signature issues a contract to deport anyone who doesn’t resist and shoot anyone who does, but there are enough wannamercs in the galaxy that Rooktown always comes back.

It’s a bad place to recruit cheap muscle, but if you need to pick up some quick ablative meat, it’ll do you. Odds are good you’ll never have to pay it, and you might even make a profit off a collector of the last 200 years of “Guns and Bullets” magazine.

Notable Regions: Htumleh Wastes

South of the inhabited regions of Vordon are the Htumleh Wastes, a large depression that was formerly a large lake or minor ocean. This region should be avoided by all visitors to the planet.

In part, this is because of the importance of the remnant ecology of such basins to Vordon’s continued viability. (Mote-lichen within the depths of these basins are the primary remaining oxygen producers.) However, of greater importance are the Vordon deathmites, tiny insects which consume the mote-lichen. The deathmites are adapted to survive by scavenging any fluids and recyclable organics they can locate, and they are exceedingly effective at doing so. An organic sophont attempting to traverse the Htumleh Wastes represents unimaginable bounty to them. Need we say more?

In other words, don’t bother buying insect repellent for your ground-car. The burrowing ones will eat that, too, if there are any sucrochemical or petrochemical-based plastics in it. And then explode from over-satiation. You don’t want them to explode.

Many visitors to the planet are tempted into the Wastes by what appear to be the ruins of a city on an island near the northern edge of the basin; starport slash-traders have been known to sell treasure maps leading there. Don’t be fooled: what you are looking at are multi-million-year-old crumbling foundations which have already been picked over by several expeditions, none of which found anything of value or interest.

And don’t hire yourself out to anyone chasing this sucker-bait, either.

Notable Regions: The Wrecks

Between Plenary and the Ranges are “The Wrecks”, the Vordon planetary wreckyard. Mercenary companies basing out of Vordon or contracted to UARC are permitted to dump destroyed equipment and surplus materiel here for a nominal fee and signing over all salvage rights. UARC in turn has an arrangement with several hazardous waste management consortia to properly dispose of all such military waste.

Visitors are advised to remain clear of the area, which may contain undetonated ordnance and other hazards.

You can sometimes pick up functional equipment and interesting secrets among the piles of discarded surplus and unsorted miltrash. Don’t be surprised to run across a few bodies, either; not everyone pays death benefits or lived long enough to cut their comrades out of the wreck – or else wanted to live too much to sort them out from the live rounds slopping around in it.

Stay out of the far end where they pile the starship wrecks and heavy vehicles, though. If the echoing sound of gunfire and canned orders over loudspeaker didn’t make it plain, some companies like to use it for live-fire training, and you’re not on their side.

Notable Regions: Grudgering

Vordon’s remaining settlement is the adjudication and war-tourism center of Grudgering. Based around a number of arenas carved out of craters, Grudgering originated as an informal location to settle intercompany disputes by combat adjudication, ranging from individual duels to full battlefield-conditions combat.

Today, Grudgering has expanded from this beginning into, on the one hand, a center dedicated to combat adjudication – not necessarily between companies themselves, but now permitting disputants to hire mercenary companies to fight out a binding decision on their behalf – and on the other hand, a generator of much of Vordon’s tourism income, as visitors come to observe the excitement of live-fire combat under controlled conditions. Indeed, some companies have come to specialize in delivering battles to please these visitors’ expectations.

Yeah, and are now worse than useless in anything resembling a real firefight.

Order (and profitability) in Grudgering is maintained by the Watchful Face company, under Eirsun “the Eyeball” Simeticelneratarathansi. Much of that profitability comes from the Face’s detailed recordings of all battles taking place in Grudgering, which they sell to companies for use in their own advertising, to the intelligence and research departments of their opponents, and to extranet media groups, without distinction. As “the Eyeball” herself puts it, “Even if you’re stupid enough to fight without gettin’ paid, someone ought to be getting paid. Preferably several times.”

A good way of getting paid for fighting, incidentally, is joining one of the guard squads that keep the Eyeball safe off-world from all the mercs who didn’t want to go prime-time or found the competition a bit too knowledgeable about their tactics. Not only does it pay well in money, but it pays well in staying under the radar where what you did in Grudgering is concerned.

– partially-eaten fragment of an annotated copy of Vordon: Planet of Adventure,
found in the Htumleh Wastes

 

Trope-a-Day: Private Military Contractor

Private Military Contractors: Lots of them, especially since the Laws and Customs of War in the Eldraeverse recognize mercenaries as legitimate combatants (it should be noted that the Imperial sense of honor takes no issue with fighting for money as long as you stay bought; loyalty to one’s contract is still loyalty, savvy?), and there isn’t any particular rule about them only being able to sell their services to their host polity, or indeed, only to a polity, either.

The grandmother of them all, of course, is the Mega Corp Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC, which both supplies its own military and security forces, and brokers the services of other mercenary companies.  It can supply everything from local security (down to bouncers), public police services, regular mercenary companies (up to army-sized), privateer starships, naval task forces, and even strategic defense solutions.

But there are plenty of smaller (but still large enough to be effective – see NGO Superpower) mercenary outfits around, especially out in the Expansion Regions.  If you need to hire some force, you will have no trouble finding someone to sell it to you.

Oh, yes, and they’re called mercenaries. We don’t do euphemisms.

Trope-a-Day: Perfect Pacifist People

Perfect Pacifist People: Brutally, brutally averted.  Any example of this that isn’t an abjectly poor tiny colony in a backwater of nowhere is already dead.  The few counterexamples are only technically pacifist inasmuch as they have a client-state relationship or a  contract with someone like Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC, to do their fighting for them and not tell them about it.

(Subverted by people like, say, the Imperials, who live in a comfortable utopia of peace and happiness – self-consciously safeguarded by the Right to Bear Arms (and, occasionally, the right to arm bears), a willingness to shoot down anyone who fails to grasp that initiating violence is disapproved of around here, and a military and militia both that their neighbors would have to be insane to consider starting a war with.)

Pacifism is impractical in a universe with bastards in it.  And it’s a big damn universe.

Trope-a-Day: Mega Corp

Mega Corp: Oh, quite a few.  (Well, bearing in mind the cultural, demographic, and technological differences that mean that while an Earthly multinational might hit millions of employees, its Imperial counterpart probably has a couple of dozen executives, a large computronium core, and millions of jobs being done by subcontractors, sub-sub-contractors, etc., or “on-bounty”.)

The canonical list in the Empire and nearby, the “Big 26” starcorporations, are usually given as:

All Good Things, ICC – retailing

Artifice Armaments, ICC – firearms, heavy weapons, military vehicles, and defense technologies

Atalant Materials, ICC – mining, refining, and nanoslurry production

Biogenesis Technologies, ICC – neogenic organisms, biotech products and bioshells

Biolith Chemical Products, ICC – bactries and organochemicals

Bright Shadow, ICC – computers (including expert systems and thinkers), telecommunications equipment, and infotech

Cognitech, ICC – cognitive science, psychedesign, nootropics, and sophotechnology

Consolidated Mutual Mitigation and Surety, ICC – insurance underwriting and ancillary legal services

Crystal Flame, ICC – immortality (noetic backup archiving and insurance)

Databeat, ICC – major cycle brokerage and information furnace rental org

Ecogenetics, ICC – ecopoesis, living systems, environmental services, and bio-architecture

Enjoyment Unbounded, ICC – entertainment and luxury goods

Experia, ICC – entertainment and media (watchvid, InVid, slinky, and virtuality)

Extropa Energy, ICC – energy production and distribution, antimatter production, and fuels

Gilea and Company, ICC – banking, investments, and futures markets

Llyn Standard Manufacturing, ICC – cornucopias and industrial-scale production

Prosperity Nexus, ICC – investment, fund management, and commercial banking

Ring Dynamics, ICC – stargates (construction, maintenance and leasing)

Riverside Eubiosis Foundation, ICC – pharmaceuticals and health and medical services

Service Gate, ICC – contract matching and labor allocation

Stellar Express, ICC – delivery services, interstellar logistics, supply chains, and shipping

Systemic Integrated Technologies, ICC – robotics, automation, and infrastructure technology

Telememe, ICC – news, statistics, demographics, data mining and information research

Traders in Ideation, ICC – information brokerage, rights management services and data warehousing

Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC – security services, military contracting, and mercenary brokerage

Vermilion Harvest, ICC – agriculture, silviculture, carniculture, and bioproducts

…but there are several others that compete close to these leagues – exactly which are named depends on who precisely you’re talking to.

Given the nature of the setting, of course, the traditional unremittingly negative portrayal of business in fiction is utterly averted, and the Big 26 receive the respect they deserve as the mighty prosperity-generating engines that they are.  But then, in their home markets, the free market actually is a free market, so they never had the opportunity to discover corrupt business strategies of monopoly, rent-seeking, and regulating the competition out of business, even if they didn’t tend to be run by people who are every bit as ideological as everyone else in the vicinity.

(Well, not that this opinion is shared by everyone.  Gilea & Co. and UARC, in particular, tend to attract some opprobrium elsewhere in the Associated Worlds, particularly in places that don’t appreciate the absolute sacredness of contract in Imperial ethics, Gilea & Co.’s policy of not recognizing any special difference between “states” and its regular commercial customers, and – especially – its willingness to pursue “asset realization” after a sovereign default with however many of UARC’s finest mercs it takes to impress upon the customer that when they do the job, they always get paid.  But that’s not the mainstream opinion at home.)

As a side note, while it is by no means a conventional corporation, the Imperial Charter makes use of much of the traditional structure of a joint-stock corporation in the Imperial government, such as it is – its citizens, for example, are citizen-shareholders in the technical lingo, and the traditional style of the Imperial Couple includes “Chief Executive Officers of the Imperium Incorporate” – so you could make a convincing argument that the Empire is, in quite a few senses, the biggest Mega Corp of them all.

All the Bang for Your Buck

NOW AVAILABLE:

Petra’s Destruction Assurance
Returned from a successful six-year contract on Vilisset (Aridias Delve), Petra’s Destruction Assurance is once again seeking long-term contracts from polities in need of deterrent forces.  Equipped with a squadron of 16 mobile-launcher-based Cherac III-class strategic-range missiles each carrying eight megaton range antimatter warheads, PDA is capable of providing appropriate strategic deterrence for continental planetary or regional asteroid-based powers.  PDA provide their own organic auxiliary support, security, inbound tracking and target surveillance services.

Note: Deterrence only; Petra’s Destruction Assurance does not contract for the performance of preemptive strikes.  Clients will not be provided with direct access to permissive action systems or launch codes.

Contact Col. Petra Solanel-ith-Serquel, c/o UARC Central Office.

– UARC Customer Bulletin, Spring 5094

What’s Mine Is Me

“The Curia has heard the plaintiffs’ argument that they merely engaged in ‘creative nonviolence’, and that therefore the use of force against them was unjustified.”

“The Curia unequivocally rejects this argument.  The term itself betrays a profound misunderstanding of the Right of Defense as it exists in the Fundamental Contract.  As the philosopher Arlannath stated seventy years before the founding of the Empire in his exegesis of the Right of Defense, ‘A sword is not an argument’.  To grant further context to this, we may cite sources as ancient as Saravoné’s Code in defense of the legal principle that el daráv valté eloé có-sa dal [‘a sophont is equivalent to all that he possesses’].”

“Thus we restate that the Right of Defense is not a protection against mere violence or physical compulsion, but against coercion of the will through whatever means applied, including indirect actions applied through other aspects of the self, for the preservation of the liberties of the individual.”

“As such, we affirm that situations where citizen-shareholders of the Empire, including coadunate citizens, or other parties adherent to the Fundamental Contract or equivalent civilities, are deprived of the use, occupation, or inherently-arising value of their own property, including personal freedom of action within private property or publicly administered commons, or subjected to trespass, properly constitute a violation of the liberties of the individual as stated in Imperial law.  Such deprivation is, in practical effect, illegitimate coercion of the will as much as overtly violent acts directed against the individual citizen-shareholder.”

“We further affirm that such activities clearly fall within the ambit of the Right of Defense, and that therefore citizen-shareholders of the Empire possess an unalienable right to respond to them with force, up to and including deadly force.”

“The Curia finds for the DEFENDANTS, who are VINDICATED upon all counts.  The plaintiffs’ charges are DISMISSED and their requests for compensatory and punitive damages are DENIED.”

– Children of Necessity v. Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC and Corona Ergetics, ICC, Curia

By Their Own Words

“Order, Progress, Liberty”

– official, Charter-enshrined motto of the Empire

“Secure against Eternity.”

– corporate motto, Crystal Flame, ICC

“All debts must be paid.”

– official motto of the Curia

“Because enough… is never enough.”

– corporate motto, Decadence, ICC

“Through reason alone, we ascend.”

– motto of the Eupraxic Collegium

“Every coin Our given word.”

– carved above the main doors of the Exchequer

“Knowledge is its own justification.”

– official motto of the Fellowship of Natural Philosophy

“We do what we can, because we must.”

– very unofficial motto of the Fellowship of Natural Philosophy

“Between the Flame and the Fire.”

– official motto of the Imperial Military Service

“Civilization has enemies; we kill the bastards.”

– barrack-room paraphrase of the motto of the Imperial Military Service

“Until no man dares command another.”

– motto of the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic

“The truth that sears away the Darkness.”

– corporate motto, Telememe, ICC news division

“When all else fails, we stand ready.”

– corporate motto, Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC

“[redacted for reasons of state security]”

– motto of Imperial State Security, Fifth Directorate