Mustered Out on Mertactor
Pagaton Library Data
Affiliation: Non-Aligned ( Na )
Starport class C, Routine quality installation. Only unrefined fuel available. Reasonable repair facilities present.
Medium sized world. Surface gravity of .875 G. World diameter is 7396 miles (11900 km).
93 percent water. Cloud cover is 70 percent.
938 million inhabitants.
Balkanization. No central ruling authority exists; rival governments compete for control (152 different nations).
Law Level 3: Weapons of a strict military nature (machine guns, automatic rifles) prohibited.
Tech Level 4: circa 1888
Trade Classifications: Rich. Low-Tech
Scale: One side of each triangle = 12,500km
Many sociologists studying Pagaton have observed that the inhabitants seem to have more in common with the culture of aliens such as Aslan and Vargr than they do the rest of Humaniti, such is their culture of power being in the hands of the strong and their lust for land.
Pagaton was originally settled fairly early in the Imperial Era, by a consortium of diverse groups from Mora, Trin, and planets in the Deneb Sector. With the planet being poor in minerals and so had little of value to trade with other planets, a problem that was exacerbated by disadvantageous position of the system, off the Spinward Main. As more and more of the world’s resources were channeled into survival related activities, exports fell off, causing fewer traders to arrive, creating a vicious cycle which did not end until the planetary tech level dropped to 4.
Once the tech level had fallen to such a level, communication between the scattered groups of settlers ceased completely and, with it, any chance of any form of law and order. Most of the colonies developed in feudal systems, with the most powerful member of each area assuming the power and taking the title Land King, sharing power and lands with his barons who, in turn, maintained their positions through the exploitation of serfs.
Pagaton quickly became a warrior culture. The native fauna contains some fairly vicious predators and so all citizens were required to become experts with a wide range of weaponry from an early age in order to survive and band together.
Despite the amount of deaths from predators (and the constant duelling between rivals), Pagaton is a garden world with fertile soil across most of the islands and the seas are also bountiful. This meant that Pagaton’s population exploded over the years leading to many parts of the world becoming crowded. This set the stage for constant battles between rival city states and countries, with the result that the world is in an almost constant state of war in different parts. This was also a time that gave rise to a splinter culture of ocean traveling nomads called the Callios. Refusing to fight in other people’s wars for lands they did not own, the Callios survive outside the laws of the Land Kings on ships that are often hundreds of years old.
There are several barriers to Pagaton advancing beyond its current TL:4. One barrier is the constant state of warfare between countries which makes cooperation on advancing technology impossible. A second barrier is the warrior-like nature of the world’s citizens. Studying is seen to be an ‘unmanly’ activity and so the great minds of the world are usually thinking of how to advance in the constant power struggles than ways to become more technological advancement. The main barrier, however, is that there are no oil deposits on the world, which means that it is impossible to develop internal combustion or plastics, etc. As a result, it has become impossible for the world to develop out of the steam age. The Pagatonians have, however, taken steam power to its ultimate extreme, taking the form of steam-powered tanks on the battlefield and steam-powered Zeppelins ferrying the richest Pagatonians from place to place.
Pagaton’s location just outside the borders of the Imperium plus its low level of technology has made the world very attractive for those elements outside the law. With no defenses, the locals were powerless to stop pirates using the system in whatever manner they choose. In this instance, the fact that Pagaton had little to trade was an advantage as pirates soon realized that there was very little worth pillaging from the world. It did, however, provide them with a great base to operate from and as a staging post on the way into the Imperium. The many deserted islands in the tropics were very pleasant places for some R&R.
Along with the pirates came the mercenary companies who were also looking for bases. Initially there were conflicts between the local kings and the mercenary companies. However, after a few kings had their castles and palaces raised to the ground and/or looted by mercs and finding that they had no way of fighting back against the most basic of ships armed with a laser, other kings realized that they were powerless to stop the mercenary companies doing what they want, where they want.
Some of the brighter kings realized that there was a lot of gain from being on good terms with a mercenary company as a platoon of well-equipped mercs was the equal to most of the local armies. After some of the kings managed to eradicate their arrivals with the assistance of mercenary companies, the others all tried to court mercs, with the result that most countries now have at least one mercenary company based upon their territory.
The mercenary companies found that the warrior-like Pagatons make excellent mercs themselves and, over time, locals have come to comprise a large part of many of those companies operating from the world. Many of the mercs hold games whenever they are in need of new members so that they are able to take the best of the best of the Pagatonians. With few options available to serfs, being accepted to a mercenary company is like winning the lottery and competition for places is intense.
Even the Imperium has come to realize what a great source of recruits the Pagatonians make and regularly send recruiting teams to the world to select the best warriors to recruit. Also on the list of off worlders interested in Pagaton is a company of space faring Uplifted Dolphins who collectively call themselves StarSwym. Traveling pre-planned routes between certain planets in their Factory/Freighters the StarSwym have made inroads with the sea-faring Callios nomads. In exchange for the humans to cultivate and gather native sea flora and fauna the Dolphins provide tech level 4 supplies that allow them to prosper in their watery environment. Pagaton is considered a tropical paradise to the space voyagers and many StarSwym vacation among the Callios. Not being foolish however, the Uplifted Dolphins enjoy their time on Pagaton in Tech level 14 Battle Dress with hover and underwater mods while armed with duel F.G.D.P.s (Fusion Gun, Dolphin Portable). This precaution often leads to pirates and mercenaries giving them no trouble at all.
Law and Order
Unsurprisingly the law level on Pagaton is low and citizens have to do something pretty serious to warrant the local baron to put a posse together to bring him to justice. Local serfs are not allowed to own imported weaponry, however. This right is reserved for Barons and Land Kings and their champions.
Mercenaries tend to be above the law as the locals know that they can’t do much to stop them anyway. The leaders of the mercenary companies tend to keep the regular mercs from abusing their power too greatly, however, as they are very happy with the status quo. There have been occasions when Land Kings fell out with their local mercenary companies and made deals with other ones and so each mercenary company is aware that they don’t have complete carte blanche to do as they want on the world. The StarSwym avoid dealings with the Land Kings as much as possible
Some trade has resumed since the reopening of the starport in the neighboring Binges system in 1057 drew traders through the little cluster, but the main export, fish and seafood, does not generate enough foreign exchange credits to the landed nobles to engage in any sort of large scale rebuilding effort. The large number of competing governments exacerbate the situation, since they tend to use what foreign exchange they have to equip their armed forces in an effort to seize or influence the distribution of vital resources (such as easily recoverable iron and coal deposits). Since the best the planet could hope for is to become an agricultural world, the only interested off world power is the StarSwym.
Although the vast majority of Pagatonians are just scratching a living as fishermen and farmers, the pirates and mercenaries bring a lot of their ill-gotten gains to the world which they spend liberally. As a result, Pagaton is classified as a rich world – the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the Land Kings, the Barons, the pirate and mercenary companies, however, all of whom have more money than they know what to do with.
It is impossible to find many imported tech items on Pagaton. The prices for these items are usually astronomical, however.
The marine lifeforms native to Pagaton have fascinated biologists ever since the first explorers arrived. At the base of the ecological pyramid are a wide variety of free-floating marine plantlife which which are frequently found in tangled masses known as greenmats. These are often tended by clans of sea faring Callios who harvest them for profit. Typical green mats are hundreds of kilometers across and thick enough to prevent all but the most powerful ships from moving through them. While many different species of plant life have been identified, all are similar in that they draw nutrients directly from seawater and use modified root systems as the means of linking with other plants in the greenmat. Many have flotation bladders; those which do not have bladders remain afloat by clinging to those which do or to the backs of surface dwelling animal life. Pagatonian plant life is photosynthetic; its characteristic green/bluegreen pigmentation comes from the chlorophyll and chlorophyll-analogs which are involved in the photosynthetic process.
The next step up on the food chain is occupied almost exclusively by a variety of extraordinarily successful and numerous pseudocrustaceans known popularly as “skreekers”. Skreekers feed on the surface-floating vegetation and can be found in enormous numbers in and around greenmats.
Skreekers provide a large part of the diet for the human inhabitants of Pagaton and the locals have come up with vast numbers of different ways of using the shellfish in different types of meals.
Far and away the most important — and the most awesome – of Pagaton’s diverse native life forms, however, is the strange animal known as the daghadasi.
The Daghadasi: The daghadasi is a gigantic beast that really does resemble a free-floating island, complete with its own local flora and fauna. The largest specimens, the so-called Great Daghadasi or daghadadedes, frequently exceed two kilometers in length; some unverified reports have claimed sightings of behemoths 10 kilometers long. Most daghadasi are members of loosely knit herds, generally including at least one daghadadede and several dozen smaller individuals.
The life cycle of the daghadasi has attracted a great deal of scientific interest. Daghadasi young grow as “buds”: parasitic growths on the walls of sheltered caverns in the parent’s side below the waterline. When the buds reach a length of 2-3 meters, they break free and join a community of free-swimming young which inhabit the waters close to the sheltering bulks of herd members.
A bewildering variety of lifeforms live and hunt along the flanks and ventral surfaces of the oldest daghadasi, and nearly all of these fall prey to the rapid strikes and shredding jaws of the juveniles known as yavru (“young”) or daghsharks. These daghsharks eat and grow constantly. Very few survive to become adults, since daghsharks eat each other as well as more defenseless prey, but a daghshark which survives its early life can reach a length of 15 to 20 meters and weigh up to 60 tons.
At this phase of its life, the daghshark begins a gradual metamorphosis. It becomes less aggressive, seeking out swarms of skreekers by drifting or swimming along and inhaling through a circular anterior maw. Within a few years, the skin becomes thicker, tougher, and more convoluted; the creature grows in breadth and, somewhat more slowly, in length, becoming less streamlined. It is now known as an adaglu (“island-son”) or ogul (“son”).
Oguls continue to grow slowly for many years, eventually growing to a length of over 200 meters. For some reason yet unknown, they eventually enter a new phase of their life cycle. Growth is suspended and budding begins. This reproductive phase may last up to a century, and during this time the creatures are known as adababasi (“island-fathers”).
Finally, again for reasons unknown, the reproductive phase ends and the animal begins to grow once again. The post-reproductive phase is even less mobile than its predecessors and tends to drift with currents from one mass of greenmat to another. It is at this point, when the daghadasi have reached sizes of more than a kilometer in length, that they become known as daghadadedes (“grandfathers”).
The lower surfaces of daghadadedes provide the same ecological niches provided by coral reefs and similar formations in the oceans of other worlds; the creatures’ flanks and ventral surfaces are wrinkled and convolute, forming canyons, chasms, caves, folds, and hiding places for a dazzling array of marine lifeforms. It is these lifeforms that form the main food supply of the daghsharks. This is the basis of the herd structure: the many adababasi produce the young and the single daghadadede provides them with food.
Another environment for life is the daghadasi’s back. A number of plants descended from free-floating species have taken root in outer dermal areas, and several species of flying creatures, evolved from aquatic ancestors, nest there. Most notable is the fierce chimearoc, which has a 4-meter wingspan, snakelike neck, crocodilian snout, and needle-sharp teeth; it is well adapted for skimming along the surface to strike at small sea creatures just under the surface.
The chimearocs are not offered a free ride: they are pressed into service as genetic messengers. Adababasi periodically secrete a protein-rich liquid in small “caves” on their backs. Chimearocs gather this liquid to feed their young; while they feed, daghadasi reproductive cells attach themselves to the chimearocs’ legs, seeking transport to other daghadasi. Because the caves secrete small amounts of liquid at different times, the chimearocs must keep moving around the herd, thus insuring the transfer of reproductive cells.
The daghadasi have provided a livelihood for a small element of Pagaton’s population for centuries. A very few were killed and used by the Callios seafarers who range the world’s vast oceans, but there was never any threat to the survival of the herds.
Util now — thanks to an amazing new chemical and the company which has begun to exploit it.
The chemical is designated PDPT-beta, and experiments have proven it to be the basis for an entirely new family of drugs — broad spectrum antibiotics that can be selectively “tuned” to wipe out entire populations of dangerous bacteria, virus particles, viroids, and even cancer cells, while leaving adjacent harmless bacteria or cells untouched. If PDPT-beta could be obtained in quantity, the resulting inexpensive pharmaceuticals promised to revolutionize medicine and offer
a chance to defeat everything from brain tumors to the common cold.
The only source of PDPT-beta known is in some selected daghadasi in their pre-reproductive stage. When scientists from a company involved in oceanic resource exploitation, Seaharvester, accidentally discovered the chemical and its potential while conducting a routine examination of a specimen on Pagaton, the company rushed into the new opening with great speed. The company’s corporate headquarters was moved to Pagaton, and hundreds of millions of credits were invested to mobilize a fleet of huge factory ships and thousands of employees.
Seaharvester’s initial efforts produced results, but at an incredible cost. A daghadasi carcass weighing a million tons or more yields only a few grams of PDPT-beta; worse, only about 10 percent of the slaughtered pre-reproductive phase animals have even the trace amount of the vital chemical; Seaharvester was able to process adequate amounts of the chemical only by a massive, indiscriminate slaughter of the creatures. After a documentary producer from Glisten filmed and broadcast footage of the slaughter of these majestic beasts, public opinion started to run high against the company; the Callios of Pagaton’s oceans complained of dwindling herds, while the inhabitants of its many dispersed lands discovered occasional bloated island-size corpses drifting into their shallows — bringing a horrible smell with them.
Environmentalists raised a cry at the slaughter, and there was considerable protest from various unrelated groups that considered the daghadasi to be intelligent, divine, or both.
Sensitive to public protests, Seaharvester’s parent corporation, SuSAG, imposed limitations on the company’s operations. A quota on daghadasi kills was set, intended to provide enough PDPT-beta to allow continued research aimed at eventual synthesis of the chemical compound. The quota was low enough to allay public concern, and the massive PR campaign combined with the disappearance of the decomposing corpses lodging on Pagaton’s beaches soon removed the matter from public awareness.
Some groups of pinko, liberal, tree-hugging, do-gooders however, remain concerned. They have heard rumors that the Callios are still complaining of dwindling herds and fighting against continued large-scale harvesting — but further from the main population centers of Pagaton, to avoid public attention. They claim that the offworld butchers are driving the species to extinction. Several independent theoretical analyses, acting on the assumption that the daghadasi could be continuing to decline in numbers, have suggested that the extinction of the daghadasi could trigger an ecological catastrophe. Removal of the daghadasi could cause an explosion of the prolific skreeker population, an end to the greenmats — and the destruction of the O2-CO2 balance on Pagaton. Although the immediate effects cannot be easily predicted, some scientists fear that a CO2-triggered greenhouse effect would render the planet completely uninhabitable in a matter of decades.
Pagaton Highport is a fairly recent addition to the system, having only been in place since 1090. Due to the balkanization of the world, none of the countries wanted to give the advantage of having the main starport located in any one of their rivals and so having a highport was the only solution. The highport is a very old model which was originally located in Glisten’s Pluvis Belt and was sold off cheap when a larger, more modern highport was required. The purchase of the highport was funded by contributions from 38 of the largest countries of Pagaton together with a generous donation by SuSAG’s SeaHarvester Division. The highport is in constant danger of falling to pieces and is constantly being patched up. It is sufficiently well armed that corsairs are deterred from trying to attack it, although it would not be able to survive an attack from a destroyer or anything more powerful. Pagaton has no navy of its own and so the highport’s defenses are all that the system contains against ships.
In addition to the highport, most countries have an area which could be considered as a Class E port. There are no restrictions against dipping for fuel (not that the world has any way of stopping it even if they tried).
(Each square = 1500 × 1500km)