“It’s the opinion of this board that Savar possesses sufficient mineral resources to justify a mining expedition. However, we cannot emphasize enough that the planet has neither the environment to support a full colony, nor the potential to merit developing such an environment. We strongly encourage the Federal Interstellar Bureau to reconsider its stated intentions, as any person suited to surviving Savar is likely unsuited to normative social environments…” -Excerpt from Sol Federation Commission 33702’s report, “Savar: Planetary Suitability Analysis,” extracted from the archives of the Tarsian Reserve
It’s unfortunately true that heads of government are busy, subject to intense public pressure, and perhaps easily bored at the worst times. A less-than-diligent reading of the Savar PSA led to the go ahead for first one colony ship, then three, then a fleet to head for the planet. Savar sits in a kind of interstellar no-man’s-land between the Milky Way and the Andromeda, a forlorn planet orbiting a depressed red giant half a million light years from the younger galaxy. From orbit the diseased iron sphere shows broad streaks of yellow-brown rock and the creases of vast, barren mountains and gouge-like canyons.
Transplanted forests of Earth trees grow thickly in some places, adding spots of green which only enhance the sickness of the terrain. Its nine continents were severed from each other by some long-ago impact, and the gaps are filled with acid water teeming with warped, vicious creatures. The same seismic fits which built Savar’s mountains cause frequent tsunamis, some almost mountains in themselves. Volcanic tantrums of spectacular scale occasionally wreath the planet in black-red ash. A thirty-one hour day-night cycle means that everyone has either far too much or far too little sleep, and that at least is just like home.
There’s just not much to recommend the wretched dustball.
The truth is that no one remembers what made Savar such a draw for their Earther ancestors, but everyone agrees the trip was one hell of a bandwagon. They understand little better what ruined the expedition and cut them off from Earth. The working theory on both points is different everywhere on Savar. The prevailing opinion of Tarse, Savar’s only Earth-sophisticated society, is that the whole system must have fallen through a rip in space-time which put it beyond SolFed’s reach. The Upper Commonwealth argues that a rogue planetoid disrupted the landing efforts, and the Defederated Association argues that a supernova wiped out Earth herself.
Whatever the reason, Savar has had no contact from the rest of humanity in three hundred years. Rumors in the Wavelands suggest visitors both human and alien come to bother and observe the planet’s inhabitants, but the Wavelands are home only to madmen and mercenaries.
In place of Earth’s government, Savar’s people have split along geographical lines moreso than ideological ones. Each new nation laid claim to a choice piece of territory, leaving freelancers and free spirits caught between ever-swelling armies with points to prove. Tarse remains aloof by virtue of her strength and technology, able to reach out and toy at will with her would-be competitors. The Tarsians retain a permanent agreement only with Savar’s most powerful mercenary groups, so as to avoid fighting a constant counter-espionage campaign. The Upper Commonwealth and Defederated Association originally formed one nation before splitting based on some rather pitiful bickering over what, exactly, a citizen was supposed to do for other citizens, the country itself, or sane morality. The newly-formed Federated Trust collapsed in about ten years, proving once and for all that thirty million people who feel no loyalty to each other cannot sustain a country. Somehow this was a point that needed proving.
Aside from Tarse’s climate-controlled cities, humans on Savar exist wherever the planet’s least proactive in maiming or killing them on the day-to-day. The local fauna range from lumpy ungulates to enormous man-eating insects made possible by the oxygen-rich atmosphere, with aggression and tendency towards discourteous ambushes proving hard to gauge. The fish taste the best, which would be convenient if not for their alarmingly high mercury content. Oceanic and coastal plant life concentrates so much of the stuff that physical contact can kill, and the deepwater algae called Byron’s Remorse emits fumes which transfer a lethal dose in seconds. Who Byron is or what he was sorry for is uncertain, but linguists believe it probably involved fatal mercury poisoning.
Savar is not home to any known sapient species besides humans, establishing once and for all that there’s only one lifeform smart enough for FTL travel and stupid enough to pick fights with a planet. There are even whispers (told in a chill hush by drunken vagrants) of places on Savar where reality itself slips. Strange visions, unpredictable energies, even the ghosts of a long-dead alien race howling “Beware!” Of course, only a child would believe such things. Everyone knows the supernatural died with the age of the sword.
Then again, the Savarrans aren’t known for their critical thinking. After all, they’re still on Savar.
(This is a companion lore entry to my serial story “Bird’s Eye View.” If Savar sounds enticing to you and you’d like to see people suffering on it in detail, the mercenaries Peregrine and Washi receive a most unpleasant assignment here.)