Taramai is such a small planet that the surface cannot maintain an atmosphere, and is considered an uninhabitable desert wasteland. Only in the valleys is there adequate atmosphere for life to exist.
Valleys now taken by the worms. Every city is now under Vaylen* control. Despite the lack of technology inherent to the planet spaceports are currently under construction and Vaylen Hammer ships rule the skies.
Humanity exists in one of three states. Hosts of the Vaylen, the new rulers of Taramai, led by the scholar Phillipe Artois, the Vaylen hosts work on turning Taramai into a staging points for Vaylen invasions on other nearby worlds.
Prisoners. All those who are have been rounded up into concentration camps are have been left free of hulling (the term of inserting a naiven worm into the base of a human’s brain) to serve as hostages, slaves, and potential hosts.
Outlaws. Though who have literally existed, for many years outside Taramai law. The outlaws still have their freedom because they have found a way to scrape out a living on the planet’s surface. They must, to survive, raid civilized areas for basic goods (food, materials, etc) but they have somehow devised a way to mine water and oxygen from the planet’s surface.
The outlaws have thus far stayed out of Vaylen reach because while the arid surface of planet is inhospitable to humans (and impossible to live on without an oxygen supply), it is actually harmful to Vaylen, who need a moist environment to exist.
Besides humans, the Vaylen have also brought their own genetic creations. Warriors made in test tubes and dropped onto Taramai like a violent parasite that quickly drains all life from its host. As the need for real fighting comes to a close, more and more of the alien creatures are being redeployed to other planets, but key locations are still guarded by then, until the Vaylen are sure the human infestation has been stamped out for good.
Phase: Invasion. Disposition: Vaylen 18, Humans 5
*Vaylen: A race of parasites. When they come in contact with another creature’s central nervous system (particularly with the brain), the Vaylen secrete an electrically conductive resin with which they control the nervous systems of much larger creatures, effectively short-circuiting the “will” of their host. Vaylen farm-worlds have become the concentration camps of the age, where people are harvested as hosts to their overlords.
Routhy (FoN) – Donald Routhy is a union boss that has spent all of his life going in and out of the Merchant Leagues favor. As a boy, he was identified as having a Bright Mark and brought into the foundation, but before his training was complete, his father was caught stealing from the League coffers and both of them were kicked out of the league, left to find their way amongst the laborers and miners.
Routhy took his small knowledge of league politics and found the underrepresented miners and convinced them that, so long as the league didn’t identify them as a union, they were free to branch out into other fields. The stopped supplying ore and started using it to manufacture themselves, narrowly dodging league tariffs and restrictions.
Eventually the Merchant League decided Routhy was more trouble than he was worth and offered him a high position as advocate. He took the job, not for any love of the league, but to protect what had become his family (both literal and figurative). That was before the war.
Now, his world has been torn apart once again. Routhy has lost his wife, father, and two sons to the Vaylen. His wife dead, one of his sons hulled, and the other two captives. Routhy has joined Kessling in the hopes of freeing his family. Routhy has the know-how to turn Kessling’s small operation into a formidable outpost, but who has the time, his father and son may be killed, or worse, hulled at any moment.
Kessling – Kessling is the only non-native human. Born on a low-index ship, Taramai at first seemed like a backwater planet, one which was sorely in need of off-world supplies. Kessling ran afoul of the Merchant League for disrupting their “natural order” and soon found out there was a warrant for his arrest. He protested, called the entire affair corruption on part of the league to maintain their business at the exclusion of all others, and soon found himself on the wrong side of the law. That was before the war.
Since the war, Kessling has found himself trapped on the planet, at first against his will. He was exited to the surface, where he was expected to die. Others outlaws, who had found a way to scrape by one edges of society took him in and eventually, after he helped them raid outposts of low index league technology that improved their quality of living substantially, he became their leader.
After the Vaylen took control of the valley’s Kessling’s surface outposts have become the only place humans can live (if you can call it that) and be free. Suffice to say, the man is not thrilled about taking in refugees who once sent him off to die. Now Taramai is his home, as the fight for control of the planet with the Vaylen rings a chord in his innate rebel nature.
Grace – Grace was a good for nothing kid, always getting in trouble when she was growing up. Her family wanted her to be be a scientist or a doctor. They said she had the mind for it. So instead, she joined the Landwehr, or voluntary military, to be a soldier, like the plant leader Sheva. She did it initially just to anger her parents and to rebel. They never took her seriously, nobody took her seriously, and she was going to show them!
As a soldier though, life was hard. Her first position was scout, which meant a whole lot of being alone, not sure if the missions she was sent on were vital to the military, or just some sarge trying to get her out of his hair and sending her to bum-fuck nowhere valley.
That was before the war. Once the Vaylen were here, and in force, life got a whole lot shittier. Grace never had time to worry if anyone cared about what she thought, she was too busy trying not go get shot. And apparently, not getting shot is enough during war time to get a promotion.
It was Sheva herself, leading an attack on the invaders that addressed her “Private Grace? I need someone to take four men and setup a beacon on that ridge so we can get a read on the Vaylen location… That you Sergeant Grace!” And that was that. She served under Sheva, a remarkable post, one she fully expected to dye serving in. But after the blast, everything when black and when she came to it was Sheva who had been captured and executed, not Grace.
Marcus – Constable Marcus Ballion had done very well for himself on Taramai, before the Vaylen arrived. He was above the riff raff like Routhy, and would have personally seen Kessling out into the wasteland of the surface shell himself, if not for the unpleasantness of the harsh environment. Marcus wanted to be a Lords-Pilot, as many children do, but his family felt him better suited of “softer” tasks, and before he knew it, they had bought him a position of power as Mandarin, and latter Constable of Grass Valley.
“Be careful of your bedmates” is a term Marcus heard bandied around many times, but never realized, until it was far too late, how true it was. His benefactor, Philippe Artois, who helped him advance, turned out to be using him as a pawn to help the vaylen seize control of the planet. When Phillipe revealed his treachery, Marcus was reviled as a traitor as well.
Faced with the options of following that fool Sheva to her death, and siding with the Vaylen (and being allowed to remain himself, unhulled, Marcus chose the path any sane man would. He worked, he kept telling himself, to undermine them, to set his people free. But hey have never seen him as their inside man, they call him only turncoat or filthy worm lover.
Now Marcus has been sent to broker a peace treaty between the Vaylen the small resistance left. The Vaylen want the planet and don’t want to deal with the pestersome raids from the few remaining humans. They are offering a ship for for all of the remaining humans on the shell to board and fly away from the planet, unharmed. All the humans have to do is leave.
Marcus has been given several tools to broker this deal. A comlink to communicate with the Vaylen. A ground cargo vehicle equipped with a huge repository or rations (as a gesture of good will) and a highly advanced medical kit to tend to the aid of the sick or injured (again, as a good faith message). He as also been told that if he fails, the Vaylen are prepared to take extreme measures to secure the planet.
Philippe Artois (NPC) – Phillipe has traded his soul to the Vaylen. They have delivered him a library of high-index wealth, the kind of technology to make you believe in magic again, in exchange for the planet. He wants power for power’s sake and doesn’t care if he is human or worm. He’s walked too far down the road of corruption and betrayal to ever care.
Dermot (FoN, NPC, Vaylen) – Dermot is Routhy’s son and former soldier who served with Grace. He has been hulled and now uses his knowledge of League trade routes, Military organization, and geography to hunt down the remaining humans.
Dermot may look like Routhy’s son, and may even have some of his mannerisms, but ever since the worm took up shop in his brain, he hasn’t been Dermot Routhy. Go ahead and try to convince his father of that!