Zaria

(from the Slavic name meaning “morning star” or “sunrise”)

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Zaria holds a dubious honour: it was the site of the second bloodiest human-Ghost Child conflict in the history of colonization, surpassed only by the brutal subjugation of Velaska. Due to the planet’s location, the human ships did not reach it for several years after they first arrived in the Border Ring; Zaria’s population watched the humans annex their stellar neighbours and received wave after wave of refugee ships fleeing the forced servitude that early human industry was imposing on the indigenous Ghost Children. Zaria’s leadership feared the same would happen to them if they did not act immediately, and so they took drastic action – using what ships they had, the Zarians harvested asteroids from the outer reaches of their star system and deposited them in their planet’s orbit. These asteroids collided with each other as they orbited and broke apart, creating a nearly impenetrable field of rock, ice, and dust. Though nearly all of their satellites and even some of their own ships were destroyed in collisions with these asteroids, eventually the Zarians had thickened the field sufficiently to make space travel to or from their planet almost impossible. When human ships did arrive, they were stymied by the debris field surrounding the planet that their intel had told them was clear and navigable. Quickly working out what had happened, the humans departed, and the Zarians believed they had succeeded.

It was only when the humans returned with a Navy cruiser that they realised how wrong they were. The cruiser fired a barrage of nuclear missiles at Zaria, vapourizing and scattering the asteroid field with powerful waves of intense heat and radiation. The EMP from the nukes had the added effect of disabling all surface-to-air defences on-planet, allowing Navy strike teams to enter Zaria’s atmosphere. Fighter craft quickly took down most of Zaria’s military capability, and while the survivors briefly clashed with human forces on the ground, the outcome was never in question. Zarian governments hastily signed treaties with the OEC, although the terms were much stricter than comparable agreements signed on neighbouring worlds.

Now, decades after the brief but destructive conflict, Zaria has mostly recovered. It remains completely disarmed except for a permanent Core World Navy base, the largest Border Ring military installation outside of Azure. The most lucrative commodities that the Merchants Guild extracts from Zaria are timber and paper, both taken from its vast old-growth forests. After the forests are logged, the land is largely converted to agriculture, and Zaria is fast becoming a large food supplier for the Border Ring. Indenture is very common on Zaria – most of its population was indentured after the failed resistance, and according to the subsequent treaty all children born to an indentured parent are themselves indentured as well. This has ensured a constant cheap labour force for the forestry crews, timber plants, pulp mills, and factory farms.