Dustspice Wars

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A series of clandestine skirmishes that took place in the Trojan Reach in the first half of the 5th Century and aimed at controlling the flow of dustspice from Romar (Spinward Marches 2140) to the Aslan Hierate.

History and background[edit]

The seeds of the conflict was laid when, in 336, a Scout expedition surveyed Romar in connection with the First Survey. The botanical team discovered that the bark of the geki bush, a desert shrub named after the relative of one of the team members, was a pleasant-tasting condiment with a slight euphoric effect. This was noted in the final report, along with many other facts, and the expedition moved on to the the next world.

In 354, a former member of the expedition founded a company for the purpose of growing geki. He set up a small farm on Romar and began collecting and planting geki bushes. Unfortunately the bush proved difficult to transplant, with most bushes dying after such treatment. The finished product proved popular on New Rome (Spinward Marches 1938) (at that time called Bellion), but the income never quite covered the expenses, and after four years the company went bust.

In 378, a new company tried again. Although the actual cultivation of the geki bush remained a problem, the company sent gatherers out to collect bark from bushes in the wild and thus managed to keep in the black for a while.

In 380, the Ikhtealyo was one of the most powerful non-Tlaukhu clans, ranking 40th. It numbered 18 billion members, owned half a dozen worlds outright and had lands on 14 more, including a small stretch of mountain range on Kuzu. It also had nine vassal clans. Like most big clans it had a few colonies in the Trans-rift, but paid little attention to them. In early 380, a small clan transport attached to one of these colonies misjumped and wound up in deep space in Trojan Reach Sector 1821. Luckily it had fuel for a second jump, but without proper repairs, the jump-drive malfunctioned again and caused a second misjump.

This time the ship wound up in the Overnale (Spinward Marches 1937) system, where it was detected by the IISS, who had a base there. The Scouts arranged for the ship to be brought to Bellion and repaired.

During their stay on Bellion, the Aslan crew stumbled over the geki spice and discovered its effects on the Aslan body. Realizing the tremendous potential of this new commodity, the captain bought all that he could get and brought it back with him. The subchief in charge of the colony likewise recognized the opportunity and forwarded the spice to the clanhome.

The Ikhtealyoko set about securing a monopoly on the new commodity, which he dubbed fteahrao (dustspice). He sent a strong task force disguised as an ordinary ihatei expedition across the Great Rift under command of his son and heir, Arewea.

Once across the Great Rift, Arewea looked around for a suitable ally. He found the Ei'eihesei, one of several clans sharing the world Stohyus. The Ei'eihesei were losing ground to a coalition of its neighbors when Arewea offered them a deal. He would help them conquer their neighbors and in return they would become vassals of the Ikhtealyo. To seal the deal he would marry the oldest daughter of their clan lord.

Arewea's squadron of cruisers and battleships was more than enough to tip the balance of power. When the dust settled, the Ei'eihesei controlled Stohyus completely, and in 388 Arewea set about ensuring a steady supply of dustspice.

He found that, due to fluctuating market demands and several bad seasons, the spice importers had gone bankrupt in the meantime. He hired a group of humans to set up a spurious research station on Romar as a cover for harvesting the dustspice. Soon a small, but steady supply was being transported to the Ikhtealyo homeworld and stockpiled.

In 394, the Ikhtealyo felt ready to market their new commodity and soon began making huge profits. Five years later, the clan's ranking had risen to 35th and showed no signs of stopping there. The Oilroiekteahearl, lowest-ranking member of the Tlaukhu at the time, were feeling threatened, and many other clans were growing envious of the Ikhtealyo's good fortune. The search for the source of dustspice was on.

Meanwhile, the Ikhtealyo had tried to transplant geki bushes to their homeworld and, when that didn't work out, other worlds under their control. They did manage to get the bush to grow in several natural and artificial desert environments, but something was missing; the bark produced by these bushes tasted well enough and gave a mild buzz, but was nowhere near as powerful an euphoric and nowhere near as addictive as that which came from Romar.

In 417, the Ikhtealyo displaced the Oilroiekteahearl on the Tlaukhu. Shortly thereafter, in 421, several clans independently identified Romar as the source of dustspice. The resulting scramble to assume control of the trade threatened to destroy the Ikhtealyo, but they had used their time wisely. Their human allies on Romar had assiduously ingratiated themselves with the local Imperial Navy admiral who were consequently ready to defend Romar against all comers (technically no more than his duty, since Glisten subsector was at that time an Imperial district), and Stohyus had been turned into an impressive fortress. Canny Ikhtealyo negotiators played one clan against the other, threatening to withhold dustspice deliveries to clans that were caught trying to hijack shipments, offering to increase quotas to friendly clans, and even, according to an unconfirmed but persistent rumor, threatening to sterilize Romar if driven too far.

The period from 421 to 454 was a witches' cauldron of skirmishing, piracy, and small-scale battles. In the end it became so bad that the neutral worlds in the Outrim Void appealed to the Imperium for help.

By 448, the situation had become grim enough to make Countess Adriana Murikshaa of Bellion act. She didn't have sufficient forces to police the entire Outrim, but she could control access to Romar. She sent an invitation to the Tlaukhu to send a joint trade mission to Bellion to resolve the problem, hinting that any clan that didn't attend could find itself left out of whatever agreement was reached. The Tlaukhu decided to comply with the request, one of the few times in history that it has acted in concert.

In 454, the Tlaukhu delegation arrived and a trade agreement was hammered out. Tyeyo Fteahrao Yolr would still carry the dustspice, but every one of the Tlaukhu clans received a specified percentage of each harvest at a fixed, reasonable price. In return, they would all turn against any clan that was caught trying to capture dustspice shipments.

Towards the end of the century, an unknown number of clans succeeded in duplicating the conditions on Romar that affected the efficacy of the dustspice harvested there and began secretly trafficking in this artificial product. By 500, knowledge of the process had become so widespread that it was no longer a secret and the demand for dustspice from Romar lessened. It remained, and remains to this day, a particularly prestigious product and continued to command a premium price in the Hierate, but the days of the 5000% profits were over.

References and contributors[edit]

This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author.