In 611, the renowned novelist Mornal Bruton took this incident as the inspiration for Shambhala – her magnum opus. The book’s plot borrows heavily from an ancient Solomani novel entitled Lost Horizon – a work with which Bucherei is known to have been familiar (there survives a reference to an article on political theory, penned by Bucherei, whose title alludes to Lost Horizon). Drawing upon Lost Horizon’s central theme, Bruton depicts her hero – miscast as the leader of the revolutionaries – as being driven by a mighty vision to create a remote sanctuary in which all of Humaniti’s greatest artistic, intellectual, and technological treasures would be collected and preserved, hidden away from the chaos and corruption of the outside universe. Shambhala is considered one of the great classics of Imperial literature, and has long been standard reading for students in practically every reputable university in the Imperium. The story has been filmed on innumerable occasions, and was even adapted for the live stage in 836.
Due to the popularity of Shambhala, Ahaja Bucherei is among the best-known historical figures in the Third Imperium. Indeed, over the centuries he has become something of a romantic cult figure, and like many others of that sort, a considerable body of legend and myth has grown up around his image. It has been common practice for sensationalist authors and the tabloid press to claim that Bucherei is still alive, thanks to anagathics, and hidden away on some remote world where he and his followers have built a utopian society founded upon unimaginably advanced psionic powers (including the ability to ‘cloak’ their planet -- inevitably named 'Shambhala' -- from discovery). These claims are ‘substantiated’ by rumors about individuals who have supposedly encountered agents clandestinely collecting artistic, intellectual and technological treasures on Bucherei’s behalf, spacefarers who chanced upon his fastness, and clusters of unexplained ship disappearances in six different regions of space.
These sensational theories have recently been given a boost by Professor Kethrin Virbek’s The Bucherei Conundrum (University of Deneb, 1101). The book is based upon an exceptionally thorough study of all the available historical sources relating to Bucherei and his fellow exiles, including several new fragmentary documents discovered in the Prinkipan secret police archives in 1094. Virbek proceeds to explode many of the myths surrounding Bucherei, while confirming that the Dru’mhilla exiles did indeed flee Prinkipo with the aim of creating a utopian society on some isolated world far beyond the boundaries of the old Second Imperium. He also asserts that the Prinkipan secret police archives strongly imply that at least some of the exiles were psionics. Virbek’s findings became the subject of intense and bitter debate within the halls of academe, but were eagerly seized upon by certain elements in the popular media as proof of their earlier claims. Indeed, despite the cautious tone of Virbek’s work, some sensationalist authors were encouraged to develop even more wildly extravagant theories concerning Bucherei. Several even speculated that the Dru'mhilla exiles were responsible for founding the Zhodani Consulate (completely ignoring the realities of the timeline).
Nevertheless, it is generally believed that the exiles did indeed plan to leave the territory of the former Second Imperium, but there is no way of knowing in what direction, though Rimward and Spinward would have offered the shortest routes to uncharted space. Much depends upon whether one interprets the somewhat contradictory evidence to mean that the exiles’ ship had J-2 or J-3 capability. Most serious scholars scoff at the notion that the exiles founded a colony that survives down to the present day, and believe that all of the exiles died either in a ship-board mishap or a failed colonization attempt – and are confident that archaeological evidence of this will eventually be found.
However, a large segment of the Imperial population continues to find the myth of Bucherei and his psionic utopia irresistible, and new books are continuously being published on the topic. Many of these posit the Sagittarian Subsector / Reft Sector as Bucherei’s destination – which is utterly impossible given the exiles’ maximum J-3 jump range. However, the mythmakers are inexorably drawn to the Sagittarian Subsector by its extreme remoteness and the aura of mystery created by the fact that its only solar system, R'bak, is a Red Zone that is off-limits to all visitors. For, one of the most widely accepted rumors about Bucherei is that the Imperial authorities have long since discovered his hiding place, but have kept it hidden by classifying the system as a Red Zone and releasing false USP data.
Most projections of the exiles’ likely course point to six more practical destinations: the Vestus and Usher subsectors of Reft Sector, the Pax Rulin and Egyrn subsectors of Trojan Reach Sector, and the Glisten and District 268 subsectors of Spinward Marches Sector. Popular speculation focuses upon Red Zones in these and adjoining subsectors as possible sites for Bucherei’s hidden utopia, while one sensationalist author suggests that the famous desert markings on Wardn (Spinward Marches 1726) are somehow connected with him.
Yet, despite all of the scholarship, speculation and myth surrounding Ahaja Bucherei, no real evidence of the ultimate fate of the Dru’mhilla exiles has ever been found.
For few of them possessed self-sufficient high-tech industrial infrastructures, and the Deneb Sector was the most astrographically isolated of all the former territories of the Second Imperium. Even before the collapse, it had been largely isolated from the rest of the Imperium by the Great Rift, and was accessible only by way of a few sparsely-populated links through the narrow funnel of the Corridor Sector. Ultimately, after the foundation of the Third Imperium the Deneb Sector would be the very last region to be re-contacted. At that time it was discovered that only a handful of the Deneb colonies had been able to retain jump technology, and that most of them had lost if for good by -1300.
One such colony was Prinkipo, a terran-prime world located near the spinward border of the I Gulf Subsector / Deneb Sector. Colonized just 134 years before Twilight, Prinkipo rapidly regressed after the collapse of interstellar society, stabilizing only around TL-3. However, the planet’s bountiful environment allowed steady population expansion which helped Prinkipo to regain TL-6 within a millennium. By -450 Imperial, Prinkipo had achieved TL-10, and was ready to resume interstellar travel, but had no naturally occurring deposits of lanthanum from which to fashion the critical jump discharge coils.
At this point in Prinkipo’s history, the planet was ruled by a repressive oligarchy. In -420, a group of revolutionaries tried to overthrow the regime, but their poorly-planned uprising was swiftly and brutally crushed. However, the surviving revolutionaries became folk heroes to the oppressed common people of Prinkipo, and the oligarchs feared that executing them would merely create a host of martyrs for their cause. Accordingly, the remaining revolutionary leaders were permanently exiled to penal colony on Dru’mhilla, one of Prinkipo’s moons. After several years in exile, the revolutionaries managed to seize control of one of several jump-capable interstellar exploration vessels that had been constructed using lanthanum painstakingly recovered from the millennia-old wreckage of pre-Long Night starships that had been found drifting in the system. Just how the revolutionaries managed to accomplish this remains unclear. One theory holds that they were assisted by a faction among the oligarchs that was anxious to be rid of them. Another suggests that a key role was played by several psionics within the revolutionaries’ ranks.
Before jumping out of the system on their stolen ship, the revolutionaries transmitted a proclamation back to Prinkipo that has since become known as the Dru’mhilla Manifesto. The Manifesto, which was largely the work of Ahaja Bucherei (Hah-Jah Boo-Kerry), a noted political scientist and philosopher, presented an impassioned defense of the natural rights of sophonts to freedom and self-rule. The popular rebellion that finally overthrew the oligarchs seven decades later enshrined the document as the central pillar of Prinkipo’s new constitution. Over the centuries, the Dru’mhilla Manifesto, whose text has been preserved in full, has come to be considered one of the most eloquent declarations of sentient rights ever produced.
The recently-published report of the Derchon Anomaly Intercept Mission (DAIMISS) reveals that the expedition discovered irrefutable evidence linking the Derchon Anomaly of 1102 to the Dru’mhilla exiles. The anomaly proved to be a highly radioactive, derelict spacecraft in the 1 kiloton range. After nuclear dampers reduced the radioactivity to manageable levels, the derelict was thoroughly investigated by remotes and DAIMISS personnel wearing protective gear.
Although no jump drives were found, the presence of jump envelope field wiring in the vessel’s outer hull revealed that it had been designed as jump-capable starship. However, the ship had been modified into a sub-light interstellar ‘slowboat’ by the installation of a Bussard Ramjet. Most of the staterooms and common areas had been converted to serve as fuel and cargo storage spaces, while the rest had been filled with low berths. The craft evidently suffered a catastrophic meltdown of its fusion powerplant that caused the deaths of all on board (including the low berth passengers) and left it ‘coasting’ through space at approximately 0.1C.
DAIMISS personnel first became aware of a potential connection between the derelict and the Dru’mhilla exiles when examination of manufacturers' data plates revealed that several pieces of shipboard equipment had been manufactured on Prinkipo. Centuries of radiation exposure had destroyed all electronic storage media found onboard, but perusal of a handful of surviving hardcopy documents revealed tantalizing instances both of the word “Dru’mhilla” itself and the names of several notable figures among the Dru’mhilla exiles. Suspicions that Ahaja Bucherei’s ship had been found were confirmed after the DAMISS expedition’s return to Lunion, when it was discovered that the derelict’s design and configuration corresponded perfectly with all known details recorded in the archives of Prinkipo.
The revelation that the DAIMISS expedition had discovered the vessel that took the legendary Ahaja Bucherei into exile has aroused intense public interest. Journalists from all of the major media chains have descended upon Lunion to report the discovery first-hand. Tabloid outlets have published a series of lurid and dramatic stories that the vessel’s passengers were killed in combat, or as the result of an act of mass suicide, and that Bucherei’s corpse has either been positively identified – or is mysteriously missing from a low berth with his name printed on it. All of these claims have been denied by the DAMISS public affairs office, which is operating out of temporary facilities on the campus of the University of the Marches at Lunion (UML).
The official scenario being presented by DAIMISS is that Bucherei and his fellow exiles likely experienced a shipboard mishap that caused their jump drive to become irreparably damaged, and left them stranded in a system that contained no planet suitable for colonization. With no other options, they removed the worthless jump drive, installed a jury-rigged Bussard Ramjet, and set out for an unknown destination at high sub-light velocity – only to be killed by another shipboard disaster. Given the known facts about the vessel’s vintage and trajectory, it seems likely that its last voyage originated somewhere deep in the Trojan Reaches Sector over a thousand years ago. This interpretation of the known facts is supported by virtually all serious scholars on the topic, and several have publicly expressed hopes that it will put an end to all of the baseless myths surrounding Bucherei once and for all.
Speculation about the ultimate fate of Ahaja Bucherei and his fellow exiles has been re-ignited by a series of new discoveries announced just days ago by the DAIMISS public affairs office. For one thing, while the names of nearly half the 53 people who died on the derelict spacecraft could be deciphered from labels attached to the exterior of their low berths, none of these corresponds with any of the 18 Dru’mhilla exiles whose names are known to history. While not impossible, this is statistically improbable.
More significantly, analysis of the derelict revealed that although the hull itself and certain shipboard systems could be dated to before -350, other equipment was undoubtedly of far more recent manufacture. Due to the distorting effects of radiation, the dating cannot be precise, but has been tentatively fixed at between 400 and 600 years ago.
Taken together these two pieces of data clearly suggest a) that those who died on the derelict were not the original Dru’mhilla exiles and b) that the vessel’s point of origin could be much closer than originally thought - perhaps even lying within the Spinward Marches sector.
These facts have been seized upon by certain elements of the tabloid media and a number of sensationalist authors as proof that their claims that Bucherei founded a psionic utopia are still valid. Furthermore, speculation that Bucherei’s hideout could actually lie within the boundaries of the Spinward Marches has given new life to conspiracy theorists who claim that the Imperial authorities have long known of its existence and have been concealing it from the public.
The University of the Marches at Lunion (UML) revealed today that Dr. Nina Hilferding, Professor of Xenology and a member of the Derchon Anomaly Intercept Mission (DAIMISS), had been abducted and briefly held by several followers of the well-known author and conspiracy theorist Tolos Banar. These individuals evidently believed that DAIMISS’s full findings -- including the precise location of Ahaja Bucherei’s legendary refuge -- were being covered up and demanded that these be made available to the public as a precondition for Dr. Hilferding’s release. The police report that all of those involved in the kidnapping are now in custody, and that Dr. Hilferding emerged from the incident completely unharmed. UML’s official spokesperson refused to comment about the matter except to offer assurances that no attempt was being made by to conceal the DAIMISS expedition’s discoveries from the public.
The University of the Marches at Lunion (UML) announced that it was joining forces with the Traveller’s News Service (TNS) in an effort to find the point of origin of the derelict spacecraft discovered by the Derchon Anomaly Intercept Mission (DAIMISS) earlier this year. The expedition will be bankrolled by the TNS and accompanied by its ‘ace’ reporter Sardil Ejir. She will share leadership of the expedition with UML’s Dr. Ignazio Silone aboard the highly-modified subsidized merchant Cushlain, which has been outfitted with a comprehensive suite of scientific gear.
According to Dr. Silone, it may be possible to find the derelict’s point of origin by feeding the known facts about its trajectory, velocity and age into advanced computer models that will be refined during the expedition if and when additional data comes to light. In particular, he is hopeful that additional data will be found concerning radioactive anomalies that can be linked to the derelict. With this in mind, UML is conducting a comprehensive search of all available records concerning radioactive anomalies in the subsectors to the rimward of Lunion, and the Cushlain has been equipped with the most sensitive radiation scanners in existence.
However, Dr. Silone cautioned the media against expecting dramatic results, since the derelict’s course and velocity could both have been perturbed by the gravity wells of other solar systems through which it had passed, and its age could not be fixed within a margin of error of less than two hundred standard years. He also noted that everything rested on the assumption that the derelict ship had followed a straight-line course from its point of origin until it suffered its fatal malfunction. If, however, the craft had altered its trajectory earlier on, or ‘turned over’ to decelerate for stopovers at one or more intermediate destinations before setting off again, then finding its point of origin could well prove impossible.
No information yet available.
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- Marc Miller. Characters and Combat (Game Designers Workshop, 1977), 8-9. (UPP used)
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