|REGION - DEEP FRONTIER|
|This location is centered in the Deep Frontier region.|
|The Deep Frontier refers to no specified region, but is used as a broad term for human settlements within the underdeveloped south of the Coalition of Colonies' space. Nestled between Light's Edge, the Weeping Stars, and Arusha, this section of space is wildly diverse. All sorts of systems, planets, and peoples can be found within. Outside of some more civilized worlds and communities, this space is fraught with hazards.|
The Free System of Vysoka is the agricultural center of the Coalition of Colonies, commonly known as the “Cornucopia of the Coalition” due to the large number of foodstuffs exported from the planet. The main language of Vysoka is Freespeak, though Tradeband is commonly spoken among merchants. The colony of Vysoka is located in the Zeic system. Orbiting Vysoka is its moon, Misiats, and the stations Khudal and Khalagdal. A heavily mined asteroid belt lines the exterior of the system. Vysoka is the only body inside the system that has permanent settlements.
Vysoka's remoteness and relatively undeveloped status has made it a planet with little outside immigration. Due to these factors, characters born on Vysoka will have names and appearances consistent with people from Central Asia, Siberia, and Eastern Europe, the original colonists of the planet. Only native Vysokans may take the Vysokan accent. This is enforceable by server moderators and admins.
Vysoka’s status as a breadbasket stems from the rich black earth that coats much of the planet’s surface. A product of past volcanic activity and terraforming efforts during the planet’s initial colonization, both farms and exceedingly bountiful fields can inevitably be found on top of this soil.
Vysoka has two supercontinents known as Astiqabi and Kassein. Of these two, Astiqabi possesses the majority of arable land and a larger population. Astiqabi’s landscape is dominated by the archetypical steppes and prairies that have come to define Vysoka, although this feature is not universal - away from the “harvest belt”, taiga can be found up north, with marshes and bogs dotting the south.
Kassein is broadly characterized as the arider of the two super-continents, although it should be noted that the only “real” desert lies behind a ridge of mountains to the east. Many seasonal lakes and rivers are present on the continent, evaporating in the summer and returning later in the year. The large Ondorway plateau sits between a line of mountains and the east coast, acting as a massive spaceport in the modern-day. Zeng-Hu dumping facilities are operated in the north, using advanced enzymes to break down vast amounts of waste shipped in by nearby city-states.
The flora and fauna of Vysoka are an eclectic mix of native and foreign species modified for habitability. Many of the crops grown on Vysoka have been specifically bred to maximize productivity, having been purchased from Zeng-Hu or designed by Vysokan farmers. In worst-case scenarios, these genetically modified plants are able to wholly outcompete native flora, devastating the local biosphere. Vysoka’s wildlife has largely been able to adapt to human presence, with a combination of conservation efforts and breeding by farmers allowing these species to thrive.
Kamoga are large humanoids roughly twice the size of a man, resembling a headless body with tree-trunk-sized limbs and thick, gray hide. Kamoga are largely docile herbivores but are known to attack violently when they feel they are threatened. Kamoga are a popular target of poachers despite their rarity in the wild, with their leather being incredibly valuable abroad. Due to their population declining over the course of the last century, several city-states maintain Kamoga preserves in their lands.
Jagalaw, more commonly known as “Burrowers”, are small wormlike creatures that can range from the length of a finger to a forearm. Notorious pests for farmers, Jagalaws are often found in basements, gardens, and other dark, damp areas. Burrowers discharge a weak corrosive acid to tunnel through rock and other tough materials, which they use to create nests. Jagalaw acid is not harmful to human flesh unless highly concentrated. Burrower pits are dangerous to gurmori due to weakening the soil and acting as tripping hazards, meaning that ranchers often pack explosives to deal with their nests.
Dalakyhr are feline-like animals weighing 100-200 pounds and rising to a height of 4 or 5 feet. Stalking on 4 legs, these animals live in small familial units consisting of a mother, father, and cubs. The mother hunts during the day while the father protects the den. Dalakyhr are an especially dangerous force in the forests and the grasslands of Vysoka, preferring to lie prone and wait for any prey to appear before attacking. Many hunters have been killed going solo in Dalakyhr hunting grounds. Groups of hunters usually work together to track dalakyhr, using their dainshu to scout and harass their den. When the Dalakyhr appear to defend their home, the hunters fire. Cubs were traditionally left alone before to grow and develop families of their own. However, many believe that the appearance of dangerous (and usually man-eating) solo dalakyhr can be traced back to cubs growing up without a caretaker. As such, most hunters usually take the cubs to sell or kill them as well.
The gurmori is a large reptilian animal with a firmly established place in planetary folklore. One of the first animals tamed on the planet, the gurmori is frequently used by both hosts and ruralites as both mounts and beasts of burden. Gurmori allow for one to travel away from civilization for an extended period of time, requiring only subsistence and rest while on long journeys. With many parts of Vysoka having little to no infrastructure, gurmori are all but essential to those passing through. The gurmori is omnivorous and possesses four eyes with horizontal slit pupils, allowing them to see at much wider distances than humans. The scales of a gurmori are usually one specific pigment, capable of retaining color for long periods of time when painted and becoming highly iridescent when polished.
The ohdker is used as livestock and a draft animal and is a favorite among ranchers as a source of fur, meat, and milk. Male ohdker grow and shed their horns every year, which are used in fights and to attract potential mates. Both male and female ohdker have a thick, shaggy coat of fur, which must be shaved regularly to prevent heatstroke. This fur is frequently used in Vysokan clothing, with larger ranches even selling their products abroad. Theft of ohdker (to sell to auctions or unsuspecting butchers) is considered a serious offense, due to the cost of raising and maintaining a herd.
The dainshu is an avian creature frequently used for sport and hunting on Vysoka. With a wingspan close to an adult man and a tail several feet long, the dainshu strikes an imposing visage when seen in the wild. Although the dainshu lacks the gurmori's place as the centerpiece of Vysokan culture, the art of falconry remains popular on the planet, especially in Kassein. The dainshu is a favored companion of Vysokan hostmen due to its utility as a scout. There are several clubs dedicated to falconry on Vysoka, which frequently organize hunting festivals and competitions outside of city-states. These clubs are known to work closely with similar organizations based in Elyra.
The boch-zivir is one of the more unusual animals on Vysoka, notable for storing berries and fruits in their body for hibernation. The boch-zivir is a bipedal mammal standing about chest-high, with a hunched posture and an elongated needle-like snout. Remarkably dextrous, the boch-zivir is capable of using its six digits to reach otherwise inaccessible Capable of stockpiling enough food for several months, the sacs used for collection create a thick slurry of sorts out of the accumulated fruits. While the slurry itself can range from “barely edible” to “close to divine”, the unique method by which this liquid is gathered makes it sought after in restaurants and bars as a drink. Farmers in regions where boch-zivir live have had some success in taming them, using specialized tools to extract the fluid and refine it into something more palatable. “Boch Brew” is a carbonated beverage sold by several different Vysokan soft drink companies, which has found a niche market in other parts of the galaxy. Boch Brew is characterized by its tart, strong taste, although the exact flavor varies on the manufacturer.
The image of a hard worker is valued and promoted heavily on Vysoka. Many encourage competition in their workplaces and daily life to improve themselves or reach quota goals, with laziness being an obviously disliked trait. Besides this, the idea of one “living free as the clouds” has also engrained itself in cultures across Vysoka. The image of a free-roaming gunslinger is a popular one and similar to a knight-errant.
Gurmori have an important place in Vysoka, being among the first animals tamed and having a multitude of uses among the plains. A love for Gurmori is especially common among the pastoralists living in the north, with them often being seen in heraldry and art. It’s common among steppe-dwellers to skin a Gurmori after death as a sign of respect. This respect to animals can also extend to other species as well. Some villages on Vysoka even live vegan lifestyles and treat their livestock with high respect.
Vysokan culture and society is very unique and detailed and can be read about more in-depth here: Vysokan Culture and Society
The majority religion of Vysoka by a large margin is Vysokan Stolitism, a shamanistic religion that is rooted heavily in nature and concepts of ancestor worship, spirits in the world around oneself, and the impact that these spirits can have on a person's well-being. It can be read about in its entirety here: Stolitism. Other religious communities exist on Vysoka as well, namely Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians, but they are smaller in numbers and influence when compared to Stolitism.
Education in Vysoka is poor outside of the few urban centers present due to the extreme decentralization of Vysoka and the remote nature of many towns, resulting in a large percentage of children growing up without receiving a proper education. Due to this, capital flight or “brain drain” is quite prevalent among the better educated, with return migration boosting the Vysokan economy. Intellectuals often leave Vysoka to study abroad, with many returning later in life.
Rural and Host Vysokans dress colorfully and anachronistically as a way of following tradition, with long woolen coats and baggy pants being quite prevalent. The vibrant scaled hide of gurmori is often used in more “modern” clothing, with this trend being popular among all walks of life. Other frontier clothing such as the ever-popular flannel and overalls combo is used by urban Vysokans as well, which is well suited to the harsh environment of the planet. Urbanites typically only wear traditional clothing like the Chokha at formal occasions and not everyday like their rural counterparts. Dull colors are universally considered quite drab. Vysokans enjoy adding fanciful designs, accessories, or patches to their clothing when they can. This sometimes results in newly wealthy Vysokans pouring credits into expanding their wardrobe, putting together flashy outfits to demonstrate their higher income.
Sporting events are wildly popular on Vysoka, providing great entertainment and a way to encourage youths to train themselves to be strong. Gun shows are, unsurprisingly, rather common events. These extend to regular target shooting and hunting competitions. Among the hosts one can find the sports of jigitova and buzkashi. Jigitova is a catch-all term for stunt riding involving a gurmori whose revered masters are referred to as Jigits. Buzkashi is based around two teams of twelve using clubs to swing and batter a ball into goals, similar to the sport of polo. Buzkashi players are frequently injured in the game, as no rules prohibit striking rival players. In the cities bare-knuckle boxing is a sport of the common people, with matches taking the form of four on four fights. Village and city dwellers alike gather to watch these matches and place bets with material goods or credits. More legitimate boxing circles also exist, with televised tournaments held in the cities and broadcasted throughout the Coalition. Other urban favorites include soccer and hockey.
While these two sports enjoy popularity they pale in comparison to the Vysokan favorite: wrestling. All across Vysoka men and women of various hosts and urban wrestling clubs train and fight one another to win competitions for prize money and glory. Professionals can eventually ascend into the Global Vysokan League, where wrestlers compete in grand tournaments to whittle out all but the best. Those few go on to compete in the final stage: the Trial of Might. The champion of this final ring is dubbed the strongest, their name and face immortalized in a statue outside the arena of Rahe to stand as a testament to their strength.
There are many genres of music present on Vysoka - even with the planet’s relative isolation, bootleg holotapes of pop music imported from Elyra, Xanu Prime, and even Sol can be found in every market, along with the “rehzika” scene (being a less a genre in of it itself, and more a catch-all term for Vysokan pop). Rock and heavy metal are among the most popular, although rehzika music based on Eridanian “dreg rap” and Elyran boy bands have become favorites among younger urbanites.
A distinctive and long-lasting genre of music on Vysoka is “narodyn”, or folk ballads, which draw on traditional aspects of Vysokan culture in their lyrical themes - involving valor, faith, family, and nature, with tributes to the steppes or one’s mother being especially common. Narodyn is especially popular in more rural areas of Vysoka.
Throat-singing is seen as an art form on the planet, with some dedicating years of their life to learning the practice. However, it’s more commonly used by farmers to calm their livestock than as an actual genre of music, ignoring the elements used in folk ballads. Younger Vysokans are sometimes embarrassed by the common “stereotype” of throat-singing and shy away from talking about it in public.
The “usvolo” is a four-stringed instrument similar to a fiddle or komuz, with a unique sound and night-ubiquitous place in popular culture. Often finely decorated and engraved over decades of use, it’s not uncommon for Vysokan villagers to have one in their home as a family heirloom - although more modern versions made of polymer are available as well. Many learn to use this instrument in their youth, with aspiring musicians generally having some expertise with the usvolo.
The “gaiskia” is a two-headed drum bound with ohdker hide, with an important role in both music and Vysokan religion. Many shamans incorporate the gaiskia into their rituals, although the decentralized nature of shamanism on the planet means that it can vary wildly between individuals. Aside from the more conventional use in hymns, a steady drumbeat is sometimes said to represent “the heartbeat of the plains” or used in rites of passage.
Vysokan traders can be found throughout the frontier, either independent or working on behalf of a nation-state. State-employed merchants are given high amounts of autonomy but are expected to fulfill the expectations of furthering influence and ensuring requests are filled. Produce is the largest export of Vysoka, with animal products closely following behind. Although Vysoka is home to a large number of minerals, Himeo’s own output results in a smaller amount of international trade - with Himean syndicates themselves setting up mining operations on the colony in order to secure raw materials for their planet's well-known industrial base. Megacorporation influence is mostly kept to the cities, with the planet’s corporate sector being much smaller than other worlds like Silversun or Venus. One of the largest exports of Vysoka is manpower with many mercenaries and manual laborers leaving the colony to work.
Arms dealing is a popular venture among Vysokan merchants, with arms being bought for soldiers or sold to areas of conflict. Their presence can often be found near warzones, putting their lives on the line for the sake of profit. Vysokan-made weapons can be found across the Coalition, some even going as far as Dominia and Light’s Edge. Unsurprisingly, this daring attitude results in many successful Vysokan merchant vessels contracting with megacorporations.
Technological development on Vysoka stagnated heavily in the post-Interstellar war era. Brain drain, a lack of centralized research, and economic recessions brought on by Sol’s departure led to Vysoka struggling to progress on its own. In the modern era, the level of technology a Vysokan has in their life can vary greatly depending on their economic class and lifestyle. The only consistent trend remains that agriculture for cities and towns will never be left to stagnate so that Vysoka can continue to improve its farming output.
City-states have caught up the fastest with the rest of the galaxy. While still a century behind, the upper class can achieve a quality of life comparable to that of Xanu Prime. Luxury products are available to those who can foot the bill. Corporations will still furbish their holdings such as factories or greenhouses with the best in the spur. Local companies use semi-automated factories to produce simple but reliable products. Thermal energy is still used just for its cheapness but nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams still churn out a great deal of energy for city-states. Life for the middle and lower classes is a degree better than anywhere else even in a city slum.
Villages are where the technological gaps become most apparent. While investment goes into whatever industries it relies on, other fields such as medical facilities or weapons for its army can be centuries old, even pre-21st century in some regions. This has led to bizarre combinations such as villages using gurmori-powered carts to move uranium fuel rods or laser-rifle wielding fighters relying on half-tracks fueled by diesel. Caravans and regular trade with cities is how a village usually advances itself further - either by purchasing better machinery or by sending its people out to become better educated.
Hosts are limited greatly because of their own ideals of self-reliance. There is only so much a gurmori can carry and the usage of trucks is only for those who need it the most. As such, hosts are almost always heavily behind in machinery or industrial equipment. Larger hosts are able to afford much more and confederacies attain a level of advancement comparable to that of the cities, albeit investing more into weaponry and survival equipment than farming tools. Payments or tributes taken by hosts are sometimes in the form of material goods.
The few synthetics present on Vysoka are largely owned by corporations. Zavodskoi’s Z.I units are a core part of Rahe’s police and army and are regularly used to handle issues within and outside the city, while ISUs can be spotted anywhere Idris Incorporated has planted itself. Shells are rarely if ever seen on Vysoka. After the rise of the SLF in Biesel and fears of clandestine use spread, city-states passed ordinances regulating the purchase and ownership of shells to the point that it became far too expensive to justify shipping one in. Idris is an exception to this as they simply ignore the regulations. The infrastructure to support synthetics is only available in cities and some villages, leading to the planet’s low synthetic population. Hosts that do have an IPC are typically ones designed to function as advisors and charged using solar panel set-ups.
Private ownership of an IPC is usually done to function as a servant for a wealthy individual or a town as a whole. Town-owned synthetics are legally the property of whatever passes for a municipal government. They’re used for either engineering and maintenance or to assist in farming. These units may eventually be entrusted to leave to work for a megacorporation. However, the wages earned by them are inevitably sent back to support their town and they remain lawed to ensure that they could not simply flee.
Free synthetics are able to attain citizenship on Vysoka, with small communities found inside every city-state. Although the Civil Guard rarely hunts down escaped synthetics, an unofficial “open season” is present out in the wild. Citizenship alone does not guarantee good treatment - one must also show they have a “spiritual presence” one way or another to be accepted by the populace. Positronics with the means to do so can bribe soothsayers, purchase counterfeit passes or find sympathetic officials to aid them
Narcotics have been commonplace in Vysokan society for well over a century. The agriculture industry is rife with farmers relying on them for cash crops, with both local and imported drug crops grown on the planet. While Vysoka’s shamanistic faith does use grown hallucinogens for rituals, more dangerous synthetic narcotics such as Red Nightshade and Ultra (Vysoka’s brand of Nightlife) are illegal in the cities. Many hosts also detest them and only the Night Devils or similar groups engage in the drug trade. However, rural towns can become massive centers for drug growth and production. This is due to the lack of any widespread law enforcement and the remote nature of many villages. Vysoka’s most common drug crop is Caromeg, also known as “Oracle. The narcotic induces euphoria and talkativeness, with an important role as a “social drug” in many circles. It can be safely chewed but also dried and cut into a concentrated powder that is either consumed via mouth or nostrils. Opium, reishi, and ambrosia strains are less popular choices for drug crops. Most Vysokan narcotics are sent towards Zaurghis where local crime groups will proliferate them through the warp holes there.
In the past, it was a common belief among Vysokan shamanists that certain numbers, letters, or words were auspicious or ill-omened. Parents would often consult religious leaders or specific "guide books" to ensure that a lucky name was chosen on the date of birth. As a result, long and overly complex names were commonplace, especially in rural areas. While these names are considered fortuitous, in practice they are too complicated to use on a day-to-day basis. Combined with the belief that using the full name of a child could attract harmful spirits, shorter nicknames are often given during the childhood, although these are often not directly related to one's full name. A Vysokan with the name of Segerandalitu-jebke, for example, may go be the nickname of Siban, which would be used throughout their life in both social and professional situations. In some occasions, a Vysokan may not even know their full name, due to the scarcity of paperwork among more isolated villages in the steppes. While this practice is less common in the modern day, giving a child a formal name and "common name" is still quite popular in some regions.
The Velhalktai is an annual long-distance endurance race taking place on the continent of Astiqabi, which lasts between 20 and 40 days on average. Starting on the west coast in the city-state of Vedamor, over 50 riders compete to reach the end destination of Czsari. Riders travel with packs of Gurmori and carry specialized lightweight saddles in order to quickly swap between their steeds in order to prevent exhaustion.
Travelling thousands of miles through farmland, rolling hills, valleys and open plains, there is no official set route - with riders expected to use their own navigation skills to reach each “checkpoint” in the city-states. At each stage of the race, specialists perform checkups on one’s gurmori to ensure that they aren’t overworked. Penalties or even disqualifications are given in the event that a rider fails a checkup. All riders are given a personal trainer prior to the start of the Velhalktai, although it is rare for one to compete without any experience in Gurmori-racing due to the strict entrance requirements.
After a race in 2456 where a jockey cheated by giving their Gurmori experimental stimulants, riders are now provided mounts to race on by the organizers. It's considered a minor award if one's farm is chosen to provide the Gurmori in question, with over 250 herders lending their steeds out for use in the Velhalkai. Riders carry bolt-action carbines and hunting knives with them for the purpose of protection, and are provided rations at each stop - although many prefer to purchase food from the many towns dotting the countryside instead.
Due to the nature of the competition, multiple methods are used to calculate the winner of the Velhalktai - including the time taken, the difficulty of the route taken, the physical status of their Gurmori, and how many Gurmori were present at any given time. As a rider is expected to have around 5 on their journey, a competitor who brings less with them will be rewarded. However, due to the difficulty of the race as a whole, simply making it to the end is considered an accomplishment. The prize for winning the race includes premium Gurmori feed, a custom saddle, and a decorated patch - no prize money is given for winning the Velhalktai, with the prestige in competing in the event considered a more fitting reward.
Vysoka has an extremely low population per square mile, although this number naturally increases near the cities. The population is largely city and settlement dwelling, with hosts making up a prominent minority. A not-insignificant number of Vysokans can be found abroad, often seeking new fortunes or trying to get a clean slate. Immigration to Vysoka is quite rare due to the planet’s low development and a weak economy.
Vysoka is home to dozens of City-States, each ruled by a mayor and council. Contrasted to the more open villages and free life of the Hosts, Vysokan cities are often congested and filthy places. The level of technology varies wildly with modern Cytherean-style upper-class homes right next to tent city slums. Poverty is rife in the urban population and usually alleviated through signing on as labor for Megacorporations. These cities are policed by a Civil Guard with poorer settlements using a militia or host instead. Law enforcement on Vysoka retains a “Shoot first, and ask questions later” attitude. Since the overthrowing of the colonial government, cities have warred and fought one another to expand their spheres of influence. The last formal war on Vysoka was Cszari’s 2421 war with Kopas over a resource-rich region. Now, cities rely on mercenaries or hired hosts to harass their rivals and expand their spheres of influence.
Czsari was where the Free System of Vysoka was created, where representatives meet to vote on colony-wide matters, and is the political center of Vysoka with a bustling tourist trade. Czsari is well known for its high number of theaters, entertainment centers, and beautiful temples. A robust administration keeps the city clean and safe for the tourists who come through it. Idris Incorporated holds a high degree of influence in the city, having recently constructed profitable entertainment centers with the latest technology from Eridani. Their banking system is headquartered here and handles the day-to-day trading of the city-states. Those who come to Czsari from across Vysoka note that the high degree of opulence in the city is sometimes soured by the overbearing Civil Guard, tourists, and their policy of keeping the poor in out-of-sight and over-crowded villages. Czsari’s flag is a pair of black rifles atop a red sun on a field of blue and green, split horizontally in the middle.
Sevaschaiv is the most developed city in Kassein, home to multiple shipyards and the industrial center of Vysoka. Sevaschaiv is said to “shine all year round”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the shiny black plumes of smoke and gleaming polluted rivers that the local industry produces. Here vessels for Vysokan space and sea travel are produced by Hephaestus and sold to other City-States, allowing Sevaschaiv great economic benefit. However, the introduction of Himean Syndicates to mine in the local mountains has added a new problem for the city’s poorly-equipped Civil Guard to handle: Regular clashes between Hephaestus workers and Himean Syndicalists or anti-corporate Vysokans, often escalating into full-blown riots. The villages around Sevaschaiv are peaceful mountain towns, that are far more welcoming to Himean prospectors. Sevaschaiv’s flag is a white gear on a diagonally striped yellow and black background.
Turiyah was where the historic 2276 Winter March took place and was the former capital of the Colonial Administration of Vysoka. Turiyah boasts a high number of Megacorp-owned universities and is often where many Vysokans go to study. The graduating classes of these universities are immediately given jobs in their respective company and sent off-world to find work. Turiyah is renowned as a generally peaceful city, with little conflict and robust social welfare programs. It is also famous for the “Square of Broken Steel”, an enormous park dedicated to the martyrs and fighters of the independence war. It prominently displays captured wargear from Sol, including old combat robots and newer equipment from the recent Second Sol-Biesel Invasion. No villages exist around Turiyah, having been emptied to form the hosts of the Great Serpents. Turiyah’s flag is a white Gurmori head upon a red background.
Rahe was one of the original cities to declare independence on Vysoka, and where the rebel groups gathered after the war of independence. Rahe’s primary export since its founding has been firearms. It was for this reason that Zavodoski moved into the city in the 24th century, dominating it and taking over the weapons industry there. Not only does Rahe produce the majority of Zavodskoi products sold in the Coalition of Colonies, but its local institutions are also entirely controlled by the corporation’s subsidiaries. Even the city’s police force is composed entirely of Zavodskoi private security. Besides that, Rahe retains another draw: The Ring of Judgement. Here, The Global Vysokan League hosts its final tournament. All around the enormous arena are countless statues of the champions through the centuries and much room left for more. Fans and championship hopefuls alike flock to this holy site of Vysokan wrestling. Rahe’s flag is eight white stars on a black background, arranged in a circle.
Vedamor is the largest of the Vysokan city-states and is known for being based on a high-quality soil deposit. Vedamor is less of a city and more akin to a sprawling farming town. Patches of businesses and homes exist between large fields of cattle or crops, stretching out over the land. Gurmori are less popular here as most clusters of buildings prefer diesel trucks. Due to its large size and low population spread, Vedamor’s civil guard is close to non-existent. Every citizen is expected to have a firearm and know how to use it should the need arise. Zeng-Hu and NanoTrasen are both present in the city to use its soil for agricultural experiments. The companies are in direct competition for influence and further dominance here, hoping to use Vedamor’s central position in rail and highway networks to become the top medical supply distributor on Vysoka. Because of this many chemists and doctors on Vysoka have begun to use Zeng Hu or NanoTrasen products instead of locally made ones. Vedamor’s flag is 3 golden wheat stalks on a green background.
Netalem, formerly one of the most prosperous city-states of Vysoka, is now known more for its reputation as the “crime capital of the Steppes”. Originally one of the only ports present on Vysoka, the city stayed staunchly loyal to Sol during the Interstellar War - an act that would result in its near destruction over the course of the conflict. Despite multiple attempts to restore the city-state to its former glory, none would prove successful. In the present day, Netalem is commonly considered to be one of the worst places for an urban Vysokan to live in. Many of those who leave never return to the decaying city, with the city’s once-thriving ports only seeing use by smugglers and pirates. Entire sections of the city-state are controlled by gangs, with the local civil guard either in the pockets of the criminal underworld or too poorly funded to care. Easy access to narcotics, both natively grown and imported, has resulted in addiction being all too common among its citizens. Although hosts attempt to impose their own laws in their districts, the line between host and gang blurs inside the metropolis. Most local politicians care more about filling their pockets than trying to revitalize Netalem, clearly shown by the numerous abandoned factories and apartments littering the city. Netalem’s flag is a white star on a diagonally striped red-and-green background.
Used to refer to the dwellers of the countless villages, hamlets, communes, compounds, and towns on Vysoka, Ruralites live a life that exists at a cross between urban and host living. These places subside off of a core industry that provides most of their income (typically farming) and are impacted heavily by the environment they are in. Be it open steppes, beaches, the seas themselves, or deep in the mountains, towns cannot escape the changes to their culture or lives that Vysoka’s geography brings to them. Whether or not this results in respect towards the environment or a belief that it must be fully used for human betterment varies from place to place. Cities are always looking to bring towns underneath their own spheres of influence. This is done both to improve their economies through the domination of resources but also to deny other cities the chance to take control. As a result, these villages are often at the forefront of city-vs-city skirmishes. Population movement for Ruralites is dynamic. A village failing usually means that its people flee to the city or attempt life as hosts, city dwellers get paid incentives to try and settle decaying towns, and hosts can at times settle down to establish a town if they see a reason to do so. Boomtowns are a common sight and appear whenever an excavator has unearthed something of great value in the far reaches of Vysoka. As resources die out in an area, so will its villages. Few cities on Vysoka began as a village as many were established during the colonization period pre-independence.
Hosts are semi-nomadic militaristic communities scattered across the steppes and plains of Vysoka, operating independently from city-states. Hosts live off the lands, using the winged dainshu as scouts and the gurmori as mounts. Warriors from these communities are renowned for their skill with firearms thanks to constant practice hunting or assisting city-states that hire them. Besides employment by Vysokan governments, most Hosts are content to live peacefully. Some turn to banditry, even being so ambitious as to launch raids on towns, convoys, and trains. More clever raiders stick to forcing villages to pay tributes. Hosts are small, but they often unify into larger (but short-lived) Confederacies. As Hosts elect their leader among themselves the leader of a Confederacy is chosen by the Host leaders. It’s a common joke among Hostmen that their elections are the freest in the galaxy given the high number of firearms among the people. Some of the largest hosts on Vysoka, such as the Novotso, Tog-Daichid, or Kayshak, have enough hostmen to fill a small army, while others are little more than oversized militia groups in terms of scope. Due to the hosts’ support of the Vysokan independence movement of the past and romantic portrayal in the media, a steady stream of new recruits is the norm for all but the most controversial hosts. Even though the life of a hostman is hard, Vysokans will still be drawn towards it to become free of the drudgery of the cities or find a new life.
The One Suns are a notable confederacy on Kassein, operating largely off of ranching and textiles. Despite their position, however, they’re known for being one of the poorest confederacies on the planet, lacking much support from city-states or corporations due to a long-standing dislike of urban support for megacorporations. However, in the recent generation, this anger shifted to a new scapegoat: foreigners. Citing the environmental damage to rural areas many foreign organizations cause and a supposed lack of respect shown for Vysokan culture, One Suns often raid foreign and corporate groups or those they suspect of “assisting” them. These Hostmen have been a particular thorn in the side of Civil Guards for riling up and participating in anti-foreigner riots, especially in Sevaschaiv. Himeans draw their ire the most, leading to Himean syndicates on Vysoka hiring local gunmen for protection. The One Sun banner is an orange field with a blue sun upon it.
The Great Serpents are one of the most prominent confederacies on Vysoka, once renowned as the dangerous fighting force of Turiyah. Many of the City’s rural population swelled the Hosts of the confederacy, signing on decades ago in order to put a stop to banditry and wars that threatened their safety in the 24th century. However, now, the Great Serpents are known for their state of decay. Their hosts bleed members, with families leaving to pursue wealth on their own terms. Many hosts have entirely packed up and left to pursue lives of banditry, resulting in their former confederacy being forced to chase after in the hopes of dispelling the shame. Hosts outside of the Great Serpents balk at the once terrifying confederacy and some are all the more happy to hasten their collapse. Turiyah’s mayoral council is deeply disturbed by the trend, and there exists an active argument around who should replace the Great Serpents when they inevitably fail. The Great Serpents’ banner is white, with a crimson snake forming a circle around a fire.
The Night Devils are a small, but powerful confederacy based in and around the city-state of Netalem. A catch-all term used for the various hosts of Netalem, it’s ironically one of the longest-lasting confederacies on Vysoka. Aside from a few core hosts, the Night Devils’ membership is in constant flux. Specializing in the production, distribution, and smuggling of various narcotics, those in the confederacy are free to compete with one another for territory, so long as these conflicts don’t escalate into a full-scale gang war. Due to the unscrupulous nature of the Night Devils, they’re highly unpopular throughout Vysoka, and have only persisted so long due to the highly decentralized nature of the confederacy. Openly admitting to being a member of this organization is rare, even abroad. The Night Devils can trace their origins all the way back to the war of independence and have migrated all across Vysoka in their history. The confederacy has been nearly destroyed but rebuilt several times. The Night Devil symbol is a grinning white skull wearing a black fur hat.
The colony of Vysoka was established in 2191 in a joint venture by Central Asian and Eastern European provinces (specifically SSRs or nations allied with the Soviet Union), with settlers arriving 3 years prior on the ships Kistun, Umit, Goyen, and Hulagu. A centralized colonial administration is created, later facing heavy pushback and criticism after committing several errors resulting in a small famine. Economic growth is stifled as well due to the administration’s focus on crops, with authorities believing that the planet would better serve as a “farm” colony than an industrial one.
Prior to the Second Great Depression, an alien disease hit many of the crops growing in Astiqabi, starving many who subsisted off the grains grown. As the non-afflicted portions of the harvest are shipped off-world and more die, tensions mount and various groups begin to take action against the Vysokan Colonial Authority, ranging from burning of crops to riots. Those fleeing to join nomadic groups increase in number, with many bringing what little belongings and weapons they had with them. The start of the Second Great Depression only makes the issue worse as the already meager amount of humanitarian aid to Vysoka diminishes.
After months of protest and violence, the Solarian government sent in a small expeditionary force to the planet in order to prevent yet another frontier colony becoming independent. As Solarian forces established martial law and began to crack down on independence movements, open rebellion broke out one year prior to the start of the Interstellar War. The Novosto and Tog-Daichin, the two largest nomadic communities present at the time, begin to launch raids on Solarian military convoys and troop transports, using their knowledge of the countryside and mobility to their advantage.
During a massive retreat from the city of Krastas, which had fallen to a rebel uprising, numerous hit-and-run attacks on the retreating army combined with lack of rations killed off a significant portion Solarian soldiers and loyalists - later being described as “one of the largest military blunders of the Interstellar War.” A request for relief was made by General Teng Wei, but by the time this request was sent the Interstellar War was raging throughout the frontier.
In 2285, the remaining forces of General Teng Wei made a “strategic withdrawal” from the area, with over 82,000 of her soldiers dead or wounded - roughly 41 percent of the original 200,000-strong expeditionary force. Vysoka officially joined the Coalition of Colonies after the capitulation and subsequent dissolution of the Colonial Administration and provided what aid it could until the end of the war.
Despite the victory gained over the Solarian Expeditionary Force, roughly 177,000 of the estimated 300,000 insurgents involved were wounded or killed, with multiple settlements wrecked in the fighting. Despite the damage suffered, representatives of the various rebel groups involved were able to meet in the city of Rahe and eventually agreed to split Vysoka apart into multiple different city-states, allowing heavy autonomy. Two weeks later, the Free System of Vysoka was established.
Military & Space Installations
All Vysokan city-states maintain their own armed forces, each of varying size and composition. However, both motorized and mechanized infantry are popular due to the Vysokan landscape allowing for rapid movement. Polities lacking the manpower to field a large standing army hire hosts as protection, either indefinitely or for a set period of time. Vysokan city-states generally maintain small navies, most of them used for and based around defense against pirates. The poorest city-states often purchase retired or decommissioned military vessels from other colonies, with richer states instead preferring to use private military contractors as a way to bolster their numbers. Confederacies sometimes have a few vessels they hire or purchase for use. Usually, these are intended for trans-continental transport or to provide a trade income.
Naval servicemen for these fleets are selected from the best of their city-state’s armies. These servicemen are extensively trained in the operation of ships and weaponry by foreign advisors, and are expected to perform at the highest possible standards. Due to the higher costs of maintaining a naval force, no city-state is willing to let standards slip - especially when that means risking losing their investment on their ships.
Cszari maintains the largest fleet of the city-states along with their ownership of the Khudal and defensive gun batteries emplaced on Misiats. Misiats itself retains little to no activity besides those weapons and the small bases used to maintain them. Khudal, however, holds a Hephaestus shipyard. Workers here toil to repair ships on order from travelers or the city-states. It also has a commercial area, where travelers are pelted with advertisements trying to draw them to Czsari.
The Khalagdal is a massive scrap yard situated in orbit opposite the Khudal. It is owned by Sevaschaiv, with its own Hephaestus enterprise there. Originally meant to be a memorial site, the scrapped hulls of Sol war vessels were gathered there to build the Khog, a statue of Vysokan men and women raising the Vysokan flag. However, over the years it became a site for passing ships to deposit their trash, believing the drones maintaining the monument would handle it for them. Said drones are referred to as Khog-drones, which has since become an insult used by locals. Now, the Khog rests in the middle of a massive scrapheap continuously harvested by Hephaestus. Activist groups on Vysoka continue to push for the Khog to be moved to a safer place, though it is unlikely it ever will.