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 Post subject: The UCCA Guide to Life on the Colonies
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:42 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:28 pm
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So You've Decided To Go To The Colonies! Get ready for an EXCITING new opportunity, for both BUSINESS and PLEASURE! Do you have questions on colony life? The planets, the people, the customs and culture that make the life of a Cybertronian pioneer the ongoing journey of DISCOVERY that it is? Then please feel free to consult this handy-dandy guide! Absolutely free of charge! Remember, knowledge is power!
....Paid for by the United Cybertronian Colonies Authority

(This background information guide is a work in progress.)

Planets
Our story takes place in a solar system far distant from Cybertron, official designation S-231. It's known more popularly to those back in civilization as 'the colonies', 'out west', or simply 'over there'. Consisting of a handful of class-M planets orbiting a sun, with a few other smaller worlds on the far end of the system. Starship rides between colony worlds are cheap- getting a ride back to Cybertron costs far more than most 'bots can afford. Once you're out west, chances are you're stuck there.

The colonies are very loosely governed by the UCCA- United Cybertronian Colonies Authority. The UCCA also funds mining, farming, and some scientific research. The governing body of the UCCA consists of allied Maximals and Predacons, though the alliance is shaky and rife with hidden agendas. The UCCA may be corrupt in some ways, accepting bribes from certain former criminals and making arrangements to exile political criminals to Cocytus or dump hazardous waste on Dustball.

Dustball
What's the official designation of this hellhole? Surely there's a more dignified name than this? Nope; Dustball is Dustball. This is a desert world, hot and dusty and desolate. Water is sparse, hidden deep below the ground or in the occasional oasis. Sandy dunes, rocky canyons, long flat expanses of windswept plains, sun-baked mountains, gigantic mesas. You get the picture. Hover-trains carry goods from one town to another; the tracks stretch for miles across the plains, crossing chasms on rickety bridges and weaving through zig-zagged canyons. There's ways to find an honest living on Dustball aside from hunting bounties- many take jobs mining, moisture farming, or drilling for oil. Each town on Dustball has a mayor and sheriff to preside over it, and each mayor answers to a governor who controls a large chunk of territory, and the governors answer to the UCCA. There are only about six governors- much of Dustball is still uncharted and/or unspoken for.

Locales of Note- (more to come)
Rotwood- This is a nothing little town where the story begins. What wood you can find on Dustball is thick and heavy, near-petrified by time- perfect for building materials, along with any expendable scrap metal. The buildings in Rotwood consist of brown and gray boxes, with faded signs and creaking porches. And what a collection of high-end places, too- a saloon, a sheriff's office, a gun shop, a general store, and a few houses.

Gildtown- A long way north from Rotwood lies this glitzier 'big-city' town. This is a much nicer-looking place all around. Places of interest include a casino, a brothel, a well-known combination bar and inn, and a large hovertrain station.

Derrick Fields- This is a broad expanse of fields with big clanking oil derricks pumping away at all hours. Many civilians work here keeping up on the machines and looking for that big payoff. Not far from the fields is a small town set into the side of a mountain range, the houses constructed on stilted platforms built into the mountain.

The Shambles- This is a ruined quarry town not far east of Rotwood. No one remembers the original name. A long time back this was the site of a massive battle between feuding 'bots. The land is riddled with craters and cracks deep in the earth, and most of the buildings have been reduced to bombed-out husks.

Scrapheap Gulch- This long, narrow ravine was once the site of a mighty river. The river dried up a long time ago, and now this is a popular dumping ground for dead bounties. It's an eerie, menacing place- the dry riverbed is littered with rusted bodies that no one took the time to bury. Supposedly there is treasure hidden underneath the gulch, but few have the nerve to look for it- especially after a dark.

Local Species-
(A note on species names- all the colony worlds are home to many indigenous species, some sentient, most not. But none of them are called by their names, instead being referred to by some handy descriptive nickname.)

Scalebacks- Dustball's riding mount of choice. These are very large, strong reptiles that look like a cross between iguanas and horses. Being sturdy of build enough to carry most 'bots on their back, they've been adopted as most's preferred ride. Since they're of a generally peaceful nature (and 'bots can't be eaten in any case), they've gone along with it. They have lithe, powerful bodies and long-snouted heads. Their eyes are shielded against dust and they have forked tongues and many rows of very sharp teeth. They mainly eat smaller animals, like rabbits or birds or giant dragonflies. Well-bred scalebacks can attain a top speed comparable to some older-model trains.

Cactus people- These sentient Dustball natives are actually known as the Cactili, but nicknames stick. They are just that- humanoid, bipedal cacti. They have thick, waxy skin in different shades of green, long protruding needles capable of sticking through wood or thin metal plating, light green eyes, and toothless mouths with sticky tongues. Sometimes they sprout colorful flowers atop their heads as well. Cactus people can survive weeks, sometimes months without water, storing it within themselves by absorbing it during one of Dustball's rare rainstorms or digging some up and drinking it. It's uncertain how cactus people breed- they just go off into the desert somewhere and before you know it, more of them are coming back. Something about pollination. Cactus people are known for being extremely patient and laid-back, taking to the Cybertronian colonization of their planet with total amiability. Some are more cowardly, a rare few are devious and businesslike. They have the ability to sit perfectly still for hours and hours, without motion, thinking deep thoughts or just waiting for rain.

Tumbilians - Much like the Cactili, they are an indigenous race to Dustball; however their appearance and disposition are very different. The Tumbilians, also known to some as 'T-Billies', are constantly blowing in and out of areas with the wind. Tumbilians are rough, tough, and ready to rumble with anyone or anything that looks at them wrong. To call them prickly in personality would be an understatement. Upon entering and exiting a town Tumbilians look like oversized tumbleweed about the size of a medium Cybertronian. These feisty people break loose of their gathered debris to become deathly brown gray in coloring with beady little eyes and nasty thin lined mouths. Spikes and thorns make up their body and, upon leaving a city, they collect debris, trash, and fallen parts into their bodies to form their tumbleweed look. One thing a Tumbilian hates is a Cactili because of their calm and stationary stance on life. The tumbleweed way is to keep rolling to the next big break.
WARNING: When encountering Tumbilians be very careful because of their distinctly dry and brittle physiological structure. Also keep flammables and very warm surfaces away from them, they tend to ignite quickly and roll uncontrollably until they are put out or completely incinerated.

Spirits- This guide entry is as yet unverified, but for popular mention it will be included. The cactus people do observe a sort of holistic religion, very little details of which are given to Cybertronians. But they often reference the spirits, an omniscient and wise collection of guides who appear to lost travelers or those said to have a meaningful destiny. They are said to take the guise of animals, or persons important to the traveler, and offer sage advice. No concrete evidence of these creatures exists.

Decayote - Similar to a Coyote in size but not physical makeup. Decayotes are feared and avoided at all cost because they are a creation of the spirits. From birth they are born decomposing and usually live an unnaturally long life span for an indigenous animal of Dustball. It is the equivalent of two Scalebacks life cycles. The Spirits use Decayotes as their messengers of death, life, and warning beacons to those sensitive of the Spirits. They are creatures poisoned by the careless acts of many past generations of indigenous people and aliens of Dustball. Decas, as some of the Cactili's call them are scavengers and eat anything, including toxic waste. Their unique life condition makes it easy for them to be blown apart, but even if one has only a head, spinal cord and one paw remaining it will continue to move forward. Mating habits of Decas are unknown as are the social relationships between the nasty creatures. There is speculation that some forms of toxic waste and sacred Spirit areas have the ability to reconnect the beast with its severed limbs. Unless instructed Deca do not attack bystanders and if they actually get close enough to someone might become loyal. They are also known to help children and individuals in dire situations if it is the will of the spirits. Decayotes are seen by the superstitious as portents of doom- any 'bot claiming to have seen one is dismissed by his peers as fanciful and paranoid.

Dune rovers- Dune rovers are quadrapedal, with large paws with enough surface area to navigate the sands easily with balance. Dune rovers store water in hairlike tubes on their backs; the specific heat of water is used to help cool dune rovers during intense sunlight. Their hard, reflective scales retain water and reflect much sunlight as well. Below the mouth are two sensory feelers that find juicy roots, decaying flesh, and underground water: all are necessary for dune rover survival. Dune rovers have incredibly large beaks that can penetrate deep into the sand and tear decaying flesh apart with ease. Dune rovers only eat dead animals and small animals that stray too close for protein and fat; most of their diet are water retaining tubers like desert yams and desert lily bulbs. Dune rover eyes are armored to protect from sand and intense sunlight. They are usually solitary; too peaceful, sometimes they frighten each other off just by scent... unless a female is in heat. Dune rovers practically stampede to each other to mate. Once the female stops being in heat, they startle each other too much and separate.

Slipstream Cats: On Dustball there are scavenger cats that are so fast, you rarely see them in civilized areas. These super fast, super crafty cats enter into civilized areas often to steal materials and food for survival in the wastelands. These cats leave a slipstream in the air going backwards of the direction they are running. It is a theory that slipstreams are able to outrun Duststorms for safety. These cats are sandy brown, streamlined, and have muscles and bones built for speed. There are also little black diamonds all around their forms. Their tails are like a pivoting tool when they want to turn at high speeds; with a quick flick of the tail to the right, the cat will begin moving to the left, and with a flick to the left the cat will begin to move to the right. It has a hook on the end to catch onto different objects to slow down or drag in the sand to stop. Their bones are hollow to allow for airstreams moving through them and achieving a rate of speed that causes slipstreams. Their claws and fangs are made for tearing things apart and defensive strikes, mostly. There are two major fangs in the front of the jaw that give it a saber-tooth like appearance.

Dustrunner: Similar to an earth roadrunner in every aspect except that the beak is much sharper, and serrated. This bird's mouth opens in four directions. They are mild in temperament. Their favorite habitat is the moving condominiums that they consider the cactus people. Not all of them live in cactus people, but no matter their habitat they feed on the predators that would do their home harm. Dustrunners have the ability to mimic things said to them. Cactili find them annoying as a race but some individuals like them as pets and friends.

Tri Rhinosarus: This large brute is about 10 feet long and stands at the height of its back at 6 feet. The head sits at about four feet. These brutes are a bronze coloring, and thick-skinned because of the blistering sun and wicked dust storms of Dustball. 'Tri-Horns' are peaceful creatures that plow the fields for farmers without being forced to. Their natural purpose in life is to plow the desert and keep it free from major debris. Beside the three large horns of black coloring on their heads, they have no amazing features. Their heads bend down to such a degree that they scrap through the desert with ease, both plowing up debris and cactus plants that they eat. Although their diet consists of plants, the Cactili and T-Billies see them as a major threat because both have lost people to them. The animal is quiet, dumb, but not easily startled into a stampede. A stampede of the 'Tri Horns' would not have been a major issue anyway because of their short stubby legs; they are powerful for plowing but have difficulty moving fast. Usually when a sand storm comes these critters burrow down into the ground and wait it out. Even though their skin is thick, it is completely smooth and without a single abrasion or crack, and is a prized commodity among criminals looking for thick armoring.


Westbrook
Short for Westrunning Brook. This is a more welcoming world, primarily composed of forest land. Beautiful weather, sun shining and trees stretching towards the sky. All sorts of forest life runs rampant here, running through the flowering meadows and along the babbling brooks. That kind of thing. The UCCA pulls in some tidy profits from the mills and plants, as well as from tourist attractions, recognizing the money-making potential in colonists who come here to 'get away from it all'. There are many large bodies of water, sending frozen water shipments through space to Dustball's towns on occasion. Unlike the governors of Dustball, who tend to mind their own affairs, the governors of Westbrook meet on a regular basis, having formed a congress to confer and discuss matters of state.

Locales of Note-
Split Trunk Mills- This is an extensive network of sawmills in the middle of one of Westbrook's very large forests. Lumber has its uses even for Cybertronians, and many pull in a good living here working the saws. The mills use hydroelectricity as a renewable power source, being only a few miles downriver from the dam. As more and more trees get chopped down, the camp is slowly extending its influence outward.

Broadside Dam- Set into the path of the massive Steely River, flowing south from Lake Depths, this gigantic dam is a wonder of modern engineering...or used to be a long time ago. It still holds together nicely, consisting of an outer layer of steel and thick internal reserves of concrete. Giant electrical turbines harness the power of the flowing water to provide electricity to the nearby sawmill, as part of the Westbrook philosophy: Get your power from the planet. It's worked out decently so far.

Riverside- This is a successful merchant town situated on the west bank of Steely River. On the bank is a boardwalk with many different shops- tailors, butchers, blacksmiths, carpenters, candy shoppes, you name it. There is a city hall here where governors often meet to discuss political matters in front of an assembly, as well as a carnival in the summers and big steamboats that travel up and down the river.

Fort Trion- This disused military fort is a testament to the days when Westbrook wasn't so peaceful. Once, in the days of squabbles with Predacon settlers over territory, this was a fortress for the Maximal military. Now it stands abandoned, stripped of security systems and weapons. This place has been known to be used as a hideout for criminal gangs.

Local Species-
Forest moth- These large (about the size of a human child) moths are native to the deeper forest regions of Westbrook. They are brown and black with sapphire speckles on their backs, and live on a diet of nectar, fruit, and any fabric clothing they can find. Overall they are harmless to people, flying high up into the trees to build nests and mind their eggs. They leave behind a distinctive powdery brown ash from their wings, and call to potential mates with a pleasant-sounding reverberating coo. They are very attracted to bright lights, often disturbing shuttle launches in their hurry to flit over to the light.

Slither- These snake-like creatures inhabit the Great Forest. These snakes have two heads and tendril-like hands. It is said that if you chop off one head, then another will grow back. The snakes tend to crawl into homes in the cities but are not dangerous. They tend to make good pets and are very clingy. Their diet usually involves small vermin and insects.

Cocytus
Named for the ninth circle of Hell, and the name is rather appropriate. Cocytus is a harsh, grim, foreboding world, far from the more pleasing climes of West Brook and even Dustball. Covered in ice, freezing cold all year round. Cocytus' north pole is the more habitable of the two, consisting of long patches of tundra in between more forested regions. The south pole is purely arctic; frozen wastelands on the edge of a massive ocean riddled with icebergs and large frozen isles. And snow, of course. Lots and lots of snow. Cocytus is a tough place to make a living, with much less Cybertronian colonists present than on the other worlds. The planet is governed by the Overseer, one elected individual who looks after the concerns of what little civilization there is on the world. He answers to the UCCA and no one else.

Locales of Note-
Snowmound- This is a small town, almost more like a village of cabins on the edge of the frozen wastelands. Situated in a valley between forests, this is as comfortable a place to live as you're going to find on this planet. Many 'bot settlers live here while they go out to make their money charting the wilderness, or mining underground for rare gemstones.

The Gulag- This is a brutal prison for captured bounties, political criminals, and anyone else the UCCA sees fit to lock up. The Gulag is a collection of bunkers set into the ground, surrounded by high laser-topped walls, sentry towers manned by snipers, and patrolling snowmobiles. It is located above an enormous network of mines where prisoners are made to work as part of their 'rehabilitation'. The actual cell blocks are located underground, where heat is provided by large generators in well-secured rooms. The underground is also the location of the cafeteria, the offices of the guards and the warden, the chapel, and so on. Not the exercise yard tho, that's right up above ground in the snow. During the day, 'bots who aren't on duty can more or less roam free in the corridors, and often are left to literally freeze. The most dangerous are incarcerated deep down in Remorseless Row, powered down and locked in solitary vaults. Prisoners are executed or exiled on a regular basis. The Gulag is simply not a nice place to be.

Local Species-
Buzzshards: On Cocytus, there exists an icy creature of death. The creature resembles a buzzard from Earth, but is covered with snow, and its wings are frozen over with icicles. These creatures have been introduced to Dustball by transmigration. During the day they look like bald buzzards hopping around the ground eating any insects or dead thing they can find. At night, when the temperature drops, their feathers reform from crystallizing frozen water and they can fly again. They usually hunt and relocate by night, and eat on the dead during the day on Dustball. On Cocytus these Buzzshards are always ready for flight and have sharp, icy wings of death. Their icy wings are dense and sharp and can cut through most materials on either planet. They do melt by day but at night it takes a high intensity of heat to cause this. Even when bald, Buzzshards are not defenseless; they have an icy breath that causes cold-blooded creatures to slow down long enough for them to ingest with their powerful beaks. The real reason everyone calls them Buzzshards is that they tend to fling their feathers at all the living things that they encounter. They will eat anything, including the mechanisms inside of a Cybertronian if able to. Chasing Dustball Buzzshards at night is a dangerous but potentially profitable venture for moisture farmers, who try to capture them and use intense heat sources to melt their feathers into drinkable water.


Castor's Anvil
Known to many as simply 'The Anvil', this is the planet closest to the solar system's sun. The sheer heat of this planet makes Dustball's summers look like a brisk autumn breeze. The Anvil's surface is covered in volcanoes, some erupting on a near-daily basis and others lying dormant for years, ready to burst anew at any time. The surface of the planet is plagued by driving downpours, chain lightning strikes, earthquakes, and geysers. The few creatures that prowl the surface are big enough and mean enough to eat 'bots alive, chewing them up like a goat chews a tin can. Could any colonist possibly live here? Who would want to? Turns out more than a few- colonists have dug networks of tunnels down deep into the Anvil's core, where they eke out a decent living with mining operations and sealing up the Anvil's dangerous gas pockets for harvesting. The chief governing power on Castor's Anvil is the Union, a collection of miners, harvesters, artisans, and shopkeepers. Basically everyone on the Anvil who holds some sort of job for the greater good. They're run by a committee of Union elders, who regularly communicate with the governing powers of the other colonies and with the UCCA for exchanges of goods and services.

Locales of Note-
Dug Deep- This is one of the larger cities on Castor's Anvil, consisting of the same basic construction as the others: Boxy building-block houses stacked on plateaus carved into the earth, with narrow alleys and roads and overpasses criss-crossing between them. Dug Deep stands out for having one of the few shuttle lifts on the planet- a shuttle lift being a massive landing pad/elevator that goes directly to the surface. Dug Deep is also situated not far from the Red River, a river of molten lava that flows east. Its path passes two smaller cities and forks into a waterfall- or rather a lavafall- that ends up in the heart of an active volcano. Better to get off at the towns.

Local Species-
Lavafish- Not all the creatures on the Anvil live on the surface; one that every colonist is very familiar with is the ubiquitous lavafish. A variety of different species of fish swim the molten lava rivers and lakes of the Anvil's underground, and the bravest and most heat-protected of 'bots make a living trying to catch them. The different species of fish include wide and flat fish, long and narrow fish, whiskered fish, angler fish, carnivorous fish both large and small, the occasional squid- about as many types as there are different regions of the Anvil underground. The most fearsome is the dreaded Lavabeard, the legendary 'big one', the fish that can't be caught. Twenty feet long and eight hundred pounds, covered in the hooks of failed fishermen, old and tough and mean, can eat a boat whole. Or so I hear.

Puffers- In the deeper, darker caverns of the Anvil live the puffers, large bioluminescent jellyfish floating on the air. They live in the darkness, floating around in small groups referred to as 'schools'. They give off different colors of light, ranging from yellow to soft blue to bright red to mellow green. This may be a form of communication between puffers, no one's quite sure. Puffers are physically harmless, lacking any form of venom or fangs or claws. Their main means of self-defense- and ironically, what draws some 'bots to them in the first place- is a blast (or 'puff' if you will) of a powerfully hallucinogenic gas. One faceful of this from a frightened puffer and you're far too high to continue chasing it. There is a business in capturing puffers and bottling up their gases for sale as drugs. Addicts to this substance are looked down upon and referred to as 'puffheads' or 'puffer-huffers'.

Spikeshells- There is no more dreaded word to hear for a group of colonists traversing the surface of Castor's Anvil than "SPIKESHELL!" These enormous creatures tear their way up out of nests dug into solid rock and run directly at any intruders upon their territory, looking to snatch up 'bots in their mouths and chew them to scrap. Resembling nothing so much as gigantic terrifying turtles, their shells are covered in metal spikes that can deflect lightning. They have six legs, allowing them to move along the ground with surprising swiftness, and are notoriously hard to kill. Male spikeshells roam the land looking for food, patrolling their territory, while the females stay with the nest and guard their eggs. Between the two, the females are even more vicious than the males and even larger, at an average twenty-five feet long and thirty feet tall- as opposed to the males' mere twenty-two feet long and twenty-eight feet tall. The best option when confronted by a rampaging spikeshell is to run very fast in the opposite direction.

Local Technology-
Boats- By necessity, the boats that traverse the lava rivers of the Anvil's underground are built extremely tough. The undersides are made of the same material that shuttles are made of, built to withstand extremely high temperatures. Varieties of boats vary from slow and steady ferries, to light and quick speedboats, to very large plodding steamboats. Literally steam- in a world with so much of it, steam is often utilized as a means of propulsion.


Le Marais
This planet lies closer to S-321's sun, and its constant warmth has led to an explosion of life far surpassing anything on Dustball or Cocytus. This is a swamp planet, much of its land formations having sunken into the water, and what remains is thick with growth. The air on Le Marais is hot and heavy, the heat sweltering and oppressive. It teems with life, from oversized insects buzzing through the air to gigantic crocodiles cruising placidly along the rivers. The planet is orbited by two moons, shining brightly on Le Marais' canopies of leaves during the night. This is a planet of gypsies, backwoods bumpkins, and bizarre superstitions, colonized by a religious offshoot of the original Autobot-Decepticon alliance of settlers and never contested by the Grussites. Canoes drift slowly along the river by lantern light, cards are stacked and knives tossed in smoky dock bars, and bizarre old femmebots sit in moldering shacks predicting futures in energon tea. Le Marais is pretty creepy, to be honest.

Locales of Note-
Old Docktown- This very literally named city sits on the edge of one of Le Marais' eroded continents, propped up with a series of supports stuck deep into the floor of one of the planet's ubiquitous swamps. The buildings are blocky multi-story sandwiches, creating narrow cobblestone streets between them. Banners and clotheslines hang from windows, criss-crossing above the alleys and walkways, and the smell of exotic food permeates the air. The wooden docks jutting out into the swamp take ferries to and fro, for a price. The old church of Primus, also known as Our Lady of Eternal Tranquility, sits atop a hill in the back of town, calling 'bots to worship with the ringing of the church bells. Behind it is one of the planet's largest cemeteries, a rolling field of tombstones and mausoleums. Supposedly a very old series of catacombs exists beneath it, the final resting place of a species formerly native to Le Marais and long since extinct. People don't go in the graveyard after dark. Too many weird things go on there.

Local Customs: Some 'bots and femmebots of this planet practice a strange series of superstitions, the official name of which is not given to outsiders. Using a series of special props and rituals, they claim to be able to predict the future, to curse their enemies with pain and deformity and death, to bless their friends with love and luck, and everything from controlling animals as their familiars to returning people from the dead. Whether this is real or just fakery depends on who you ask. As for these 'magic' practicioners themselves, they run the gamut from sauve young con artists using cheap rigs to deprive tourists of their creds, to real old-school crones who just may be the real deal. These people are rarely if ever seen outside of their home planet, but all the same, better to stay on their good side.



Ti Ion
A primordial world covered in jagged gray rock and shallow gray ocean, the planet Ti Ion is the one-and-only lonely satellite of a tiny white sun. Isolated as it is, the system wouldn’t be worth a damn and a half, if not for its strategic importance. Ti Ion, Gateway to the Colonies, acts a halfway mark between Cybertron and a number of its more remote holdings, including the S-321 colonies. Several corporations maintain shipyards and refuelling stations in orbit; the largest of Ti Ion’s satellites is a space station and weapons platform maintained by a combination of Maximal and Predacon military forces.

Locales of Note-
Ti Ion Spaceport- Planetside, Ti Ion is home to one settlement, really just a spaceport and support facilities built into the side of wind-tossed plateau, curving along the inner edge of a sheltered bay about eight miles around. Ti Ion has no permanent residents other than the staff required to run it ,and those officers of the UCCA stationed in the settlement. The port prides itself on cutting edge automated docking procedures, immaculate amenities and numerous entertainments for tourists, although the sweeping upgrades have yet to reach all docks. In fact, Ti Ion’s glittering façade hides some truly deplorable conditions at the port’s outermost sections. In particular, many colonial arrivals, considered unimportant are shunted into the oldest and most decrepit landing pads.

Colonial Port Authority- The UCCA’s main seat of authority is at Ti Ion, although in practice the region’s commandants have always been more interested in pleasing their corporate and military clients than in administrating the colonies under their alleged care. The Colonial Authority’s offices have since expanded into the decommissioned military barracks left behind by the Expeditionary Forces when Gladius went operational.

Gladius Maximus Orbital Fortress- The Max Gladius is a Maximal-joint-Predacon military base maintained by Cybertron’s Expeditionary Forces in geosynchronous orbit over the Ti Ion settlement, a giant transwarp receiver in the shape of two huge, parallel blades, curving across the night sky. The reflected light off of the shining, silvery station is visible from the planet’s surface, a looming presence. The Gladius is a straight shot into uncharted space, places never before seen by Cybertronian optics, and therefore a possible risk factor for the homeworld. The corporate presence around Ti Ion is here on the sufferance of the Expeditionary Forces (the EF), and the generals inside Gladius don’t let them forget it. Most of Gladius is classified, off-limits to civilians, but a lot of top secret corporate research goes into the EF that the paying public won’t see for years to come.

Seatosky Space Elevators- A relatively small, specialized company, and one of the few actually based in the colonies, Seatosky is a construction firm for skyhooks-- the cheapest way to get into space. Sure, it’s a big initial outlay to engineer the thing and put the pieces in the air, but once it’s done, any actual upkeep is very minimal. Seatosky gets to new colonies early to sell them on the investment, and sits on their money at Ti Ion. They have six towers around the one planet alone-- showroom models, but actively in use by the spaceport. The ownership lives remarkably well, as far as colonials go.

The Corporates- DTC, Infinitech, and Omnicom among others maintain corporate branch stations at various points in Ti Ion’s orbit, any one of them the equal or better of the spaceport proper, in terms of expense and luxury if not size.

Native Life-
Marine Algae- The most complex form of indigenous life yet produced on Ti Ion’s barren surface are mats of single-celled plants that carpet some of the planet’s water bodies in its warmer northern hemisphere. They produce the planet’s oxygen, and in turn are fed upon by colonial bacteria.


Scrapheap

This planet, a little farther from the star than Dustball, was a failed attempt at technoforming on behalf of the Decepticon Empire. The project was joint with the Autobots; however, it was based on technology that the Decepticons wished to use to expand their empire. Twisted and mangled, the world of iron, nickel, lead and zinc is a twisted and mangled landscape of half formed technological buildings and sphires.

The technoforming experiment failed miserably; the unstable energon of the landscape destabilized and the process went out of control. No Cybertronian could bear the surface without a beast mode, so the planet remained uninhabited until the Maximals and Predacons returned to the planet. Energon miners now collect the unstable energon; however, this planet's energon is so unstable that stellar cycles are required to complete a major transport shipment.

The miners live in makeshift apartments in half-finished rooms in the largest sphires of Scrapheap; only five spires are habitable. Rudimentary generators are set up to shield the miners from energon, so the miners can rest and relax in robot mode. All of the miners have beast modes that allow them to handle items carefully; no one can safely venture out in the open without a beast mode.

For visitors, there are bioarmors for short-term use that are rented on a day by day basis; it is basically a thick, strong zinc-based moss that clings to all exposed areas. Certifiable Pete is the only dealer selling the bioarmors. That moss is vulnerable to some of the wildlife of the planet. Dog-sized zinc-based amoeba and smaller zinc-based fungal creatures mutated from the technoforming and like to feed on the planet's zinc-based moss. Of course, Certifiable Pete is also the only dealer in the chemicals that act as repellents to these creatures.

Locales of Note-
Each livable spire was designated by position relative to the largest spire; however, they have taken on nicknames from the miners.

Spire Central: Junk-
Junk Spire is the largest, most completed spire, able to house 1,000 miners. This is the site of 75% of energon refining into usable forms. Veins of iron glow outward from this spire; they glow from the run-off of the energon refining process. This spire is like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows their place, and they do not take kindly to people interrupting the flow. Even the slightest interruption can disrupt energon flow to the colonies for months.
Three spires are the site of the planet's remaining 25% of energon refining. Each of these three sister spires only have enough livable space to house about 150 miners. To the north is Trash Spire, to the south is Refuse Spire, and to the east is Garbage Spire.

Spire West: Waste-
Waste Spire is the smallest spire and lies the farthest distance from Junk Spire. Waste processing and unusable energon goes through this spire. There really is no livable space in the spire, but 50 miners make do with what space they have. There is no generator to let the miners rest and relax in robot mode either. Criminals are often sent here for work release programs; the criminals live in makeshift shelters in the surrounding half-formed buildings.

Local Species-
These are the only creatures that survived the technoforming event and mutated as a result.

Goblu- Dog-sized gunmetal gray amoeba creatures. They will often imitate shapes around them. They have an internal sac of acid for digestion. They can harden tips of their bodies into teeth, but they cannot unharden the teeth; the teeth instead fall off over time.

Fukun- Gunmetal gray mushrooms with hundreds of stringy legs and teeth around the edges of the mushroom cap. They range in size from centimeters to the size of housecats.

Biomuck - A strong, thick gunmetal gray moss that metabolizes sunlight and zinc. It is often bred to be used as bioarmor to shield from the effects of unstable energon.


Pralss
A cold, dark, airless rock often shaded from its faraway sun by the local system's gas giants, Pralss once played home to a scientific research complex operated by the Predacons-- that is to say, it did, right up until being bombed into submission by Double Helix pirates some 65 stellar cycles ago. Escaping research technicians detonated extensive self-destruct charges, burying the entire site under a hundred billion tons of solid planetary ice, and simultaneously relegating countless faculty members to death, thus setting off a political controversy that saw Pralss declared off-limits to one and all right up until the last decade. The destruction of the planet was thorough, and little of value has been recovered since the planet was reopened to travellers; however, the Predacon Secret Police maintain a close vigil over the planet, and salvage teams are subject to various license fees and spot inspections. The planet is located about a week's cruise from the outer rim of S-321; some settlers are, even now, only just receiving word that Pralss is open to travel again. Salvage is considered drudgework, mind-numbing and back-breaking, and is the kind of thing many 'bots go outlaw just to keep from resorting to.

Locales of Note-
The Pralss Installation- Ground was first broken for the installation at Pralss over three centuries ago, around about the time of the original signing of the Pax Cybertronia. As a gesture of goodwill to the Predacons, out of deference to the many Predacon facilities that were shut down or reclaimed by Maximal authorities, Pralss was one of many new bases constructed on the Predacons' behalf: a new beginning, a severing of ties with the old ways. No more of the lethal experiments, painful test cases, or destructive 'accidents' that were the hallmark of Decepticon R&D. Pralss, and other facilities, would be different from the start... But it didn't last. By the time of Pralss's final evacuation, no Maximal had set foot inside of Pralss's sterile corridors in over 200 years, and whispers had grown of terrible goings-on within the deepest underground chambers of the base.

Today, the halls seem quiet, but for the salvage teams. Predacon and Maximal alike, they strip good metal and junked technology from the space-cold wreckage for recycle way back on Ti Ion. Most of the salvagers on Pralss know each other, and relations are generally amiable, though seldom close-- a small town atmosphere is the only kind of atmosphere Pralss gets these days, and even then, it's pretty thin.

The Lonely Astronaut- This modest-sized bar and lounge is located in one of the many cargo modules of the giant junk trader Blue Minded God; as such, it is only located on Pralss for about half of Pralss's year. Even so, it forms a kind of hub, as the silo-shaped modules of the God are a familiar sight to the salvagers who work Pralss, and those with their own ships and shuttles have come to land close by. Run by Old Hob, a neutral modeless bot with horns and an underbite, the Lonely Astronaut buys their surplus at a fair price, as well as providing refreshment, privacy and...entertainment on all thirty-six of its tightly-spaced tower floors. It is also possible to book passage aboard the Blue Minded God, staying within the cramped yet homey confines of the bar during trading season.

Recent Rumours-
The Voidsucker- The sucker's one of those thing supposedly nobody believes in, but everybody's afraid of. There've been disappearances, out at the furthest dig sites; folks have seen shadows out the corner of one optic, and felt a chill across their backs that can't be the wind-- no wind without air, remember? And everybody's heard Cloudmancer's story of how he found his partner Sunburn with not a mark on him, completely drained of energon after only an hour out on detail. Going back a few cycles, Old Hob remembers a similar incident, with a rookie salvage detail, all found starved of energon in a trench not far from the bar. The local Predacon Secret Police unit seems to know something about it, but they're tight-lipped, as always. Recently, the PSP has clamped down on one of the better dig quadrants out in the eastern hemisphere. Several of their black clawlike ships have been flown in since, which is rarely-- if ever-- a good sign.


A Note on Colony Technology
No matter what planet you're on, it's a fact that high tech is hard to come by. Many choose to stick to the three B's- bullets, blades, and bludgeons, and sometimes bombs as well. Do high-tech weapons still exist on the colonies? Lasers, railguns, pulse rifles? Sure, but there's a reason they're so rare. The power to run them is in very short supply. Energon is hard to come by on worlds that don't naturally provide it. Subspace buffers malfunction. Some weapons don't have replenishable ammo. Bots who come to the colony worlds do well to keep their best weapons hidden, lest they break down or run out of ammo and they find themselves unable to reload or repair them. Weapons that are still in shape are often stolen or bartered away- there is a healthy underground arms-dealing business in place on Dustball. In light of this, most choose to keep it simple.

The most notorious form of execution on the colonies- aside from the classic and easy firing squad- is the electric noose. This device, invented by some lawman who'd seen videos of old-fashioned Earth executions, consists of a metal cable that automatically tightens around the condemned bot's neck. When activated, it sends massive jolts of electricity through the condemned's body, overloading their spark to a fatal degree. This is a gruesome show to watch, the victim writhing and shaking on the end of their rope as sparks travel down the noose. After their spark finally succumbs, their body is either buried or left hanging for other would-be offenders to see. This method of execution is particularly popular on Dustball.

Colony Landmarks And Culture
Inter-Colony Post Office- With the UCCA's funds for improvement of colony world technology stretched thin as it is, one of the first hits the colonies took was a sudden lack of an efficient and modern form of communication between distant towns or between neighboring planets. In response to this, the UCCA created the Inter-Colony Post Office, known more simply as the Post Office. Postbots are hired to deliver mail from town to town, and an emphasis is placed on speed- 'bots and femmebots seeking a job with the post office are often hired on the basis of being constructed for enhanced speed, or having beast/vehicle modes that can run or fly extremely fast. Newspapers, letters, packages, paychecks- everything travels by post office, and the position of postbot is considered extremely important. They operate by one motto- The Mail Must Not Fail. Different branches of the post office are placed on each colony world, and it is a common sight to see the fleet-footed postbots stocking up their mailbags at hovertrain stops from the mail cars before zooming off. Postbots are lightly armed and armored as well, as mail theft is a fairly common occurence on the colonies. If you want to join the post office, you need to be able to move fast, and shoot well.

Certifiable Pete's Shopping Super-Chain "Thirty-one stores across S-321 and counting!" The most recognizable face of commerce and capitalism on the colonies, Certifiable Pete is an unusual Predacon. His loves in life are not bloodshed and glory, but low prices and happy customers. His original name is almost certainly not Certifiable Pete- he gets that name because his prices are so low, he's certifiably insane! He started with a dingy little shop on Dustball specializing in a little bit of everything a colonist could need, and began to expand from one planet to another. Now you can find a store in almost every region of each colony world, and he is currently trying to get a new one opened up on the Ti Ion settlement.

Every one of Pete's stores is the same in that it is not the same as any other store. Gaudy, colorful storefronts adorned with a cartoonish image of Pete- a bow-legged, portly beetle Predacon with a dazzling grin and a friendly wink. Inside on the shelves, everything ranging from food to energon to guns and ammo, to books and farming implements and medical miracle formulas. The stores are always staffed by almost entirely pretty young femmebots, and in some areas will offer unusual services like a no-questions clinic or a beast mode DNA scanner, available to use for a nominal fee. Strangely, Certifiable Pete himself can be found at every single store. The theory is that either he has mass-produced copies of himself, or is generating a hard-light hologram of himself at every store. Or maybe he just works a lot of shifts and travels very fast between colonies?

The Junkelli Bros. Circus- The Most Electrifying Edifying Entertainifying Show on the Colonies! Founded by a pair of Junkion brothers whose lineage dates back to the original colonization, this traveling circus is the talk of the sophisticated set, appearing regularly on Westbrook and doing the occasional show on Dustball and Le Marais. This show features acrobats, clowns, magicians, trained animals, gun trick shows, vaudeville routines, the fast-talking Junkelli Brothers as the ringmasters- it's got a little bit of everything. Sweets for every palate, from Cybertronian to human to Cactili are provided, as well as an amusement gallery running alongside the circus featuring ring toss games, shooting galleries, tests of strength, various contests, and a freakshow. The Junkelli Bros. Circus has it all; be sure to bring your little ones and lots of creds.


Important Historical Events
The Colonization- Generations ago, Cybertronian settlers set out on a wide campaign of expansion across the galaxy, and arrived at a backwater solar system which would be given the official designation S-321. The original settlers, comprised of different teams of Autobots and Decepticons, saw a great deal of potential the future colony worlds for mining and exploration. The natives there responded to the settlers in a variety of ways, from the Cactili's laid-back acceptance to the open challenge of the elusive Cocytus frost riders, but most could be bribed or negotiated with into cooperation. The Autobots and Decepticons had different goals for the colonies in mind, and different ways to go about it, so not every planet was colonized at the same time or to the same extent. Just as the settlers began to improve upon the worlds, the Great War between Autobots and Decepticons was declared and the settlers were forced to return to Cybertron to fight for their respective sides. No Cybertronian settlers would return en masse to S-321 until the following generation of Maximals and Predacons.

The Pioneers' War- Following the signing of a peace treaty between the Maximals and Predacons, a loose alliance of the factions returned to S-321 to resume the colonization of the worlds there. However, upon arrival in the system, they found that another spacefaring race had laid claim to these worlds- the Grussites, a proud race of bone-spiked, ashen-skinned warriors with long red hair tied into different types of tails to denote their caste and function. Grussite society is ruled by a decadent caste of royals, often blood relatives, and given education in arts and sciences. They rule over the lower classes, warriors and workers and slaves, who act in the royals' names. Grussite ships are distinctive, looking like elongated triangles with triple nacelles and heavy armor. Initial peace talks with the Grussites (who would become colloquially known as 'graycoats' due to their distinctive gray uniforms) fell through, and war was declared to push back the graycoat interlopers from the colony worlds.

Over the course of the next five years, the war between the Cybertronians and the Grussites raged back and forth across the colony worlds. The graycoats quickly distinguished themselves as an especially deadly and intelligent adversary, utilizing advanced weaponry and Cybertronian-like armor to defend themselves. The tide began to turn after the Cybertronians scored decisive victories in a few key conflicts, including the Battle of Bulkhead Hill, a famed skirmish where over two thousand graycoats were slain by Predacon warriors in a Dustball gorge, and the Great Riverbed Push, where a company of Maximal and Autobot soldiers laid siege to a graycoat fortress set in a dried-out Westbrook riverbed, succeeding in forcing a mass retreat despite the graycoats' superior numbers. Finally the Grussites had been pushed back from all the colony worlds, and were forced to evacuate S-321, returning to their homeworld somewhere outside the system, a world which has never been seen by Cybertronian optics. Unofficially, the Cybertronians won the Pioneers' War, though the Grussites never surrendered and never officially claimed defeat.

The Founding of the UCCA- The Pioneers' War had ended and it became clear to the heads of state back on Cybertron that a new branch of the government would need to be set up in S-321. The purpose of the United Cybertronian Colonies Authority was threefold- 1, to ensure that the Grussites could never return to S-321 without Cybertron knowing immediately; 2, to provide the settlers with a reliable and organized system of overarching government at all times, and 3, to open up easy trade routes between the colony worlds and Cybertron for exchange of goods, while accepting a reasonable amount of taxation from settlers in order to improve upon the colonies.

The first act of the newly formed UCCA was to create a base of operations, for which they chose the lifeless primordial planet of Ti Ion just outside S-321. Their second act was to appoint leaders to the individual colony worlds- governors who would manage large chunks of territory, who would then assign mayors to each town, who would then assign sheriffs to keep the peace. The UCCA also created the post office, laid the hover-train tracks, and erected a number of civil buildings, banks, stores, scientific research offices, mining camps, and prisons. The UCCA would not prove popular with settlers who had grown accustomed to a greater amount of freedom, as their initial acts also included drawing up a number of new laws and raising taxes. The UCCA would become known to many, perhaps unfairly, as corrupt bureaucratic busybodies, an image that has stuck with them to this day.

One of the first controversies the UCCA was partly responsible for was a scandal known as the Graycoat Scare. Though the Grussites had not been seen in S-321 for years, a rumor had begun to travel that Grussite lower castes, tiring of royal oppression, had immigrated to the colony planets where they lived in modified body armor, disguised as Cybertronians. The UCCA placed a bounty on all graycoat defectors, running sensationalist newspaper headlines through the post office, and triggered a wave of paranoia in the citizenry. Several normal Cybertronians were beaten by mobs, claiming they had been graycoats in disguise. Eventually the scandal died down, although official UCCA orders to all lawmen, bounty hunters, and civilians are still to immediately detain any Grussite or disguised Grussite on sight.

The Tranquil Valley Slaughter- About fifteen years ago, the small railroad village of Tranquil Valley in Westbrook was the site of what is considered to be one of the worst atrocities in colonial history. A peaceful and inoffensive town situated between a forested ridge and the snow-capped mountains, Tranquil Valley was visited one day by a band of marauders, led by a mysterious arachnid Predacon in a dirty red cloak. This Predacon, later identified by the name 'Disaster' and very apparently the leader of the group, rode to the mayor's office and demanded the townspeople turn over the contents of their treasury and the sheriff's armory to him. The mayor, a proud and stubborn individual, refused and threatened them with the noose if they did not ride off. The band of marauders left, seemingly taken care of- only to return that night.

The houses were burned to the ground, the railroad tracks destroyed, the cattle and crops obliterated. A total of eighty-two townspeople were killed, including children and organic settlers such as Cactili and humans. Eighteen more were injured, and seven are missing, presumed dead. The mayor, sheriff, local doctor, and all the town deputies were dragged into the main square and hung, their sparks riddled with bullets. When this grisly scene was related to the neighboring lawmen by the few survivors, Disaster immediately became the most wanted 'bot in all the colonies, and enraged citizens began to call for his head. Over time, the rest of his band were either apprehended or killed, but Disaster himself continued to evade capture. Two-thirds of the death count of Tranquil Valley is attributed to him, and each encounter with the law found Disaster easily escaping, leaving more bodies and destruction in his wake. Disaster has become a dreaded and hated figure to most colonists, almost legendary, and often you will see buildings or trees in Westbrook with the words 'Remember Tranquil Valley!" scrawled upon them. At current, Disaster is still at large and wanted for 500,000 credits, dead or alive.


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