After decades of neglect, Nova Station has recently returned to the forefront of Tendril politics. For 121 years, the drivesats around Nova haven’t received a single message from Old Space. In 2489, the transmissions from Hammer’s Star had ceased, leaving only Aegis to communicate with. But in 2496, light-years away, the Kendai drive relay was restored, and messages flooded in from the Stellar Ring. The Second Galactic War was finally over, and the stellar nations would soon be returning to the Verge.
The stellar nations’ first representatives arrived in the Verge four years ago, but the changes they brought to the Tendril system are just an extension of the system’s patterns of the last 50 years. Most important, the stellar nations brought powerful economic interests to bear, always hungry for resources. The increased demand has opened the door to independent businessmen who are now raping Tendril for its mineral and metal wealth; when the resources are exhausted, they will move on to other systems. This rapid exploitation of Tendril’s mineral wealth has put a strain on the status quo, but Tendril’s traders are no strangers to trouble.
In the new economy, the people of Alaundril-or Alaundril, Inc., as some call it-have made a vast fortune selling stockpiles of minerals and metals to the Galactic Concord. The Alaundril business councils offer slightly reduced prices to Concord buyers to increase Concord interest and influence in the Tendril system. The plan has been successful, and the system is safer for the Concord presence. The sales have also made many busy leaders very wealthy. In the most spectacular example, Williamson remains the wealthiest man in the system, although he has reinvested his earnings heavily in modernizing Alaundril’s shipyards. A little of this great wealth has trickled down to the people, who are happy with Williamson’s rule, for the most part.
The StarMech Collective has mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand, they are pleased that they’ve regained a system in the Verge when so many systems have rebelled against their former nations. Furthermore, Tendril isn’t just any system; it comes with the Cyra Belt, a vast and easily accessible source of mineral wealth. It has a habitable world in Alaundril, despite the radiation. Finally, Alaundril’s shipyards are simply the finest in the Verge.
The political situation casts a shadow over Tendril’s assets. While the Alaundril government continues to voice its complete support of the Collective, StarMech ambassadors and bureaucrats often find it difficult to deal with Williamson and his business councils. StarMech citizens are welcome within the system, and StarMech vessels have full rights of passage. But StarMech officials in the system find it upsetting that directives from the Stellar Ring aren’t always followed here. Tendril’s inhabitants look to Alaundril for leadership, not to Chance, the StarMech capital hundreds of light-years away in Old Space.
The long absence of their beloved patron, Williamson ex-plains, has created a unique situation in the Tendril system. Three generations have been born and raised as Vergers rather than as Starmechs. While their parents and their great-grand- parents remember StarMech and remain loyal to the nation, Tendril’s natives consider the members of the Collective no more than friendly strangers. While no one wants to sever the system’s ties to StarMech, it will take years to reintegrate the population peacefully.
The system’s inhabitants aren’t prepared to answer to a new civilian authority after years of independence. For example, a law passed in 2455 allows the Alaundril government to reassign any mining claim that hasn’t been worked in 10 years. Many independent miners hired by StarMech long ago became small companies and made claims of their own. These independents contribute to Tendril’s success, and no one wants to see them shut down.
The end result is that the star system is recognized as a StarMech protectorate. StarMech cruisers maintain the peace, and StarMech law rules the system. Tendril’s corporations send a percentage of their profits to StarMech tax collectors each quarter. But within the system, and especially on Alaundril, StarMech authority is checked by the business council that acts as both government and employer. For the time being, the local government retains the right to assign claims in the Cyra Belt. This represents the true power in the system, even though much mining in the belt is unlicensed.
The one place where StarMech military and civilian officials do rule unchecked is over Nova Station. After StarMech promised both the businesses of Alaundril and the Galactic Concord that Nova’s drivesats would remain open to everyone, the government of Alaundril ceded the giant space station and its drivesats to StarMech in 2499. Of course, StarMech still makes large profits from drivesat communications, given its monopoly. StarMech made public access to the drivesats a point in assigning valuable Concord shipping routes to Tendril,- Alaundril agreed with the decision. By doing so, the locals guaranteed cheap rates for interstellar communications. And given the station’s high upkeep cost, it’s often more trouble than it’s worth.
The local StarMech leadership headed by Chelsea Krest (Hi/ StarMech/DFA-13) appears largely content. Krest has advocated taking the long view in most relations with Alaundril. As StarMech gains more influence in the system, Krest is certain that the citizens of Alaundril will become accustomed to their new friends. Within a generation, reunification will he an accomplished fact.
The prominent exception to Krest’s slow and sure approach is at Darkhold, in the heart of the Cyra Belt. To Krest, StarMech’s public success in Tendril depends on its ability to create a stable and reputable peace. Darkhold has grown independent from the rest of the star system, but it has also made itself vulnerable. In the first two years after StarMech’s return, it has made generous offers to Darkhold, meant to convince the outpost how much more pleasant life would be under StarMech control, but Darkhold has chosen to remain independent. The outpost’s newest strategy is to jam the navigation equipment of uninvited craft, farcing these ships to navigate the crowded heart of the Cyra Belt manually. StarMech has condemned the activity as illegal and dangerous. Recently, StarMech lost a cruiser in the (belt, and the repercussions are still being worked out
The rush of prospectors from the Stellar Ring has provided yet another destabilizing force. As has been true since Tendril’s colonization, many of the new miners hope to strike it rich. Lately, though, research vessels are arriving in numbers that almost equal the mining ships. Each is eager to explore the mystery surrounding the Augustinus disappearance. Since 2497, the number of digs on Atlas has increased tenfold. The number of recognized academic institutions, religious groups, and eager amateurs working side by side has created a new economic niche in the Tendril system Today, only StarMech has taken any steps to regulate their activity, by loosely tracking expedition routes and licensing new arrivals. The only thing that StarMech has insisted on is that any experimentation involving alien discoveries be done around the distant gas giant Pox. After the Augustine, no one has questioned this demand.