Ashtar

From Emperor's Hammer Encyclopaedia Imperia


Ashtar is a jungle world beyond compare. It was the private abode of the High Inquisitor, who had built an exact replica of the his family's original castle on the island which is located in the middle of the inland sea. Vicious animals ranging in size from microscopic to immense (200+ Feet Tall) have been found deep in the natural vegetation of this world. Night and day they kill each other... In fact, the High Inquisitor once commented that the planet, "Was like Imperial Politics on a planetary scale." because of the constant bloodletting. Truly, this is a fitting home for a Dark Jedi.

Eventually, the call of progress visited Ashtar and settlements were created to house curious folk and entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the natural resources of the jungle planet.

Geography[edit]

The dense jungle and naturally humid temperatures of Ashtar make it the perfect home for its extreme mix of vicious predators. Much of the surface consists of a spit between deep oceans and thick dark vegetation. The forests on the surface creature a magnificent canopy, reaching one hundred-fifty (150) meters in places, which keeps the active jungle below in darkness and thick humid heat.

The oceans surrounding the jungles are deep and beautifully blue, however deadly. The largest of these oceans is known as the Sea of Tranquility. The first settlers of Ashtar found calm waters and beautiful beaches greeting them when they reached the coast. The first fishing boat sent out a month later never returned, and rescue parties reported what had happened to craft that ventured too close to strange dark spots in the water and the fates of divers sent to investigate the depths of the oceans. Since that time the people of Ashtar have learned to both fear and respect the creatures of the deep.

Ashtar's native inhabitants range from cannibalistic bacteria to gigantic predators and even carnivorous plant life. Despite such dangers, the planet is regarded as one of the most beautiful planets within the territories of the Emperor's Hammer. Because of this, the forests on many parts of the planet are yielding to the relentless assault of loggers, funded by the New Imperial City, clearing space for the construction of more cities on the planet. The operation is a complex one, as space for the the thousands of citizens flocking to the planet each year must be made, but the beautiful and deadly forests must be preserved to maintain the economy of the planet.

Approximately two-thirds of the surface is covered by deep waters, sloping steeply to wide continental shelves. The range of species inhabiting the shallower waters is staggering, whilst the very fact that deep water species are continually being discovered should act as an indicator of the potential of the world and its priceless ecosystem. Geologically very stable the six continental landmasses tend to be generally large and flat, hilly uplands the most common inland feature, protruding, at least in part, from the dense forest canopy.

Cities, Structures, and Demographics[edit]

Ashtar's Capital City of Sheran is located on the shores of the Sea of Tranquility and is, by galactic standards, a relatively minor affair, boasting a population of a little over 400,000. Sheran, however, perfectly represents the typical city structure on Ashtar, a bastion-city whose central spires house the citizen body, protected from the hazards of the exterior by a wide curtain wall - as much to keep citizens in, for their own safety, as to keep the worst of the flora and fauna out.

Each continent is subdivided into numerous provinces, each province centered on a single bastion-city. The well protected provincial capitals ensure reliable logistical supply by providing secured landing facilities for the transport of any necessary materials. Dozens of smaller settlements dot each province, but all roads lead back to the bastion, and it is only through the bastion that inhabitants can reach other provinces and bastion-cities - this isn't a draconian security measure but a physical necessity, any serious attempt at creating land-transport links longer than the distances between towns have always failed, the voracious growth of the forests quickly overwhelming man made constructs.

The satellite towns and settlements reflect the bastion to which they are connected, looking to it for protection and guidance. This self-reliant nature and natural requirement for localized leadership has resulted in a strong aristocratic tradition on Ashtar, the bastion's each dominated by a single noble house responsible for the welfare of its province's inhabitants and its defense. Whilst of course the Imperial elements in the capital exercise overall authority, it is through the aegis of the local lords - its is a near certainty that every Ashtarian's loyalties lie first to their lords, and only second to the Emperor's Hammer. However in light of their continuing contentment and loyalty the difference can be ignored.

The coastal bastions tend to be larger than their inland fellows, benefiting from far more manageable and open swathes of land and capable of extending into the shallows of the seas, ideal bases for the booming fishing industry, the fruits of which labor can be found in any world across the sector.

Economy[edit]

As a heavily forested world, Ashtar's primary export is, logically, lumber. Ashtarian wood is of a particularly renowned high quality, the hardwoods prized among the furniture industry, among others, including such lucrative export markets as the luxury starship trade. The lumber industry accounts for ninety percent (90%) of the planet's gross income, with millions of tonnes of timber shipped on an annual basis, a tiny fraction of Ashtar's forests nevertheless replaced within months due to the rapid growth cycles of the native trees. The Ashtan Fir's light wood is prized across the sub-sector for its rich, honeyed color, particularly favorable as a paneling material. The Tarean Blackleaf, with its dark foliage and silver bark, serves a dual purpose, its light wood flexible but tensile, used heavily in the construction industry in place of more modern materials, whilst the bark is imbibed in the local spirit as an anti-pyretic analgesic, keeping the worst effects of the often sweltering heat at bay.

Ashtar is not a highly developed world, but has little need of high-technology. The logging camps and seeding lodges are fulfilling a basic function without the requirement of advanced tools or droids etc, perfectly efficient as they are. The logistical organization of their industrial process is near flawless, each camp feeding their produce back to the bastion, from which it is either moved between bastions, stockpiled, or transported off world after basic dressing in the bastion's sawmills. The gentle whine of spinning saw blades and the smell of freshly cut timber is an ever present component of the Ashtarian lifestyle, a lifestyle of contentment, working in unison with the fragile ecosystem.

Like any population Ashtar relies on imports for those materials it doesn't already possess, luxury items in particular. Certain foods are largely imported, though the agricultural industry is beginning to expand beyond the plentiful seas, the booming fishing industry producing a massive surplus, much of which is shipped off world to bolster the agricultures of more developed, heavily populated worlds.. Luxury goods, manufactured goods, and other processed materials are imported, funded by the profitable trades in timber and the planet's other natural products. The taming of the planet's flora and fauna took a toll on the original Imperial settlers, but has, in time, proved to be of great value - the biochemical properties of several plants proving extremely interesting to Imperial scientists, partiuclarly those of the more dangerous flora. The Hammer's Intelligence division utilises a number of compunds originating from Ashtar, such as Tresamorphine, a drug opening the mind of a seuspect to easy manipulation and interrogation, or Khalan Lotus, a nerve toxin fatal within nanoseconds of it entering the blood stream of a target and conveniently difficult to spot in an autopsy.

The value placed on these natural weapons has led to the emergence of a small but flourishing smuggling cell on Ashtar, private individuals attempting to simply land away from a bastion and do their own spot of harvesting. Whilst this is hugely profitable and often sponsored by major criminal syndicates, the risks are equally huge. Of dozens of unofficial camps in the deep forests some 80% will be destroyed or overcome by one of the countless natural threats. The most recent story to appear in the local media recalls the death of 45 illegal farmers after their compound was covered in Maecan Spores, a seemingly innocuous event resulting in innocent flu-like symptoms a day before they all died of massive brain hemorrhages, their spinal cords devoured and broken down by a viral agent for food.

Considering the dangers inherent in inhabiting the planet it is perhaps a little odd that, despite its admittedly outstanding beauty, such a significant number of citizens continue to flock to the coastal bastions to enjoy the unbroken miles of golden beaches and the excursions into the least vicious stretches of forest. Although a minor component of the economic picture it nonetheless offers a different aspect to a very specialized world. It is with this consideration of the natural beauty in mind that much of the 'heavy' industry on Ashtar is limited to the orbiting processing stations and storage yards.