|Onohemu/Xenough (Foreven 1822)|
|Classic Era (1115)|| |
The non-aligned worlds of Xenough have regressed tech levels for the most part, and a few have become havens for the sectors trash. The worst of these is the "freehold" on Onohemu.
Onohemu is a small, flint colored world when viewed from space. Meteoric cratering has deformed the surface into a twisted jumble of broken terrain, shallow lakes and debris fields. Onohemu's system is still heavily populated with planetismal debris, and bolide impacts are common enough to represent a threat to settlement. Dust raised by these impacts constitutes the local taint, and is heavy enough to require simple filter masks to prevent silicosis. The native life is mostly autotrophic species hardy enough to survive the constant resurfacing. The planet is metal poor, and its ecosphere is too small and bland for serious agricultural exploitation.
It goes without saying that such a world attracts scant attention from the rest of Charted Space. The lack of vital resources caused Zhodani surveyors to put the system at the bottom of the priority list. Avalar and later Solomani colonists showed similar disdain. Aside from a small refueling station for the Zhodani Navy, no serious settlement was attempted until the 890s, and it was not the kind that receives favorable treatment in travel guides.
The lack of official scrutiny attracted the worst kinds of people: dissidents, pirates, petty criminals and various fugitives. A rude shantytown grew up on the shores of a large lake in the northern temperate zones, welcoming all and everyone with no questions asked. The mixing of Zhodani, Imperials and Avalaran guttertrash made it an even more dangerous place than usual, with fights and rivalries split along ethnic, nationalistic and ideological lines. The world's poor infrastructure and sandwiched location limited it as a base for established criminal activity, such as pirate operations. But it did become a favorite retreat for those on the lam, a bolthole and watering spot between jobs, and a networking center for recruitment and alliances. No one is barred from visiting the Freehold, and there is no time limit for when one has to leave.
In an effort to forestall the inevitable official response, whether punitive raids from either the Zhodani or the Avalars, a government of sorts was cobbled together by the more permanent residents of the world. A rudimentary legal code limiting violence and confrontations between the various groups was enforced by hired merc "police." The government, which is always known as the Conclave, is more of an honor system than a real governing body. A visitor to Onohemu was expected to know his or her or its place within local society, and remain mindful of balancing their rights against the public order. Most Conclaves are held together by the fortunes of their sponsors, and they often collapse within just a few years of their founding, to be replaced by another Conclave created by newer money brokers and patrons.
This pretense did not prevent raids by troops and police from nearby interstellar governments. But no attempt was ever made to evict the Conclave and the Freehold from the world. Even the Zhodani accepted that removal of the troublesome element on the world would merely drive it underground away from official scrutiny. The Freehold's freedom of access, and limitation of violence by its enforcement of neutrality, attracted groups that would otherwise be too difficult to monitor in more law-abiding environments to be freely seen by intelligence and police agents sent undercover to the world.
The current Conclave collapsed in 1200, in the wake of the Zhodani Exodus. An emergency Conclave is in the formation stages, though debate and disputes over what response should be taken towards the Zhodani refugees beginning to clog the starport has so far prevented a finalized government to be implemented. Pirate attacks against refugee ships and camps has inflamed many local Zhodani commanders, and their ships and troops have been visiting Onohemu on a more frequent, and confrontational, basis of late. The Storms' Fury and other starmerc organizations has also been more frequent visitors of late, and tensions have been rising in orbit between Zho, merc and local crews.