(More background on And Here The Wheel – this time the garbage planet Tarlac which features at an important turning point of the novel ‘And Here The Wheel‘. There is some story spoilers below. You have been warned…)
Located in the CD-73 253 system, Tarlac is literally a pile of garbage. A temperate world with little vegetation, it was colonised in 3284 by the United Sanitec corporation as a garbage dump.
In the late 70’s Sanitec management was hit with a wave of resignations. The positions were filled through internal recruitment which led to a drop in standards. Cheaper ways of doing business were sought and pilots were being contracted to destroy containerised garbage amongst unsettled asteroid fields. Advertising for contracts was exclusively on the Underground channel and was a quick way for novice pilots to build enough credit to afford better ships and better contracts. This practice was brought to the media’s attention in 3282 and hit the headlines through a sting operation in early ’83.
Immediate government sanctions were placed on the company and their market share bottomed-out overnight. Determined to clean up their image and regain their previous market position, C.E.O Liam Granger removed 75% of the management structure and hired external trouble-shooters. Their first act of business was to buy a world where they could legally dispose of rubbish, and this planet was Tarlac.
They established small corporate towns around the perimeter of the only body of water on the planet, Lake Shiner. Recruitment focused on honest but down-on-their-luck people – hard workers who had no choice but to accept the work.
Conditions were slightly above average and United Sanitec continually boasted of their work. Sanctions were lifted and the garbage piled in. New garbage fields were opened monthly to keep up with demand. Unfortunately recruitment couldn’t keep up. Then in 3294 they hit a stroke of good luck: The Battle of Villist.
After the Battle of Villist a significant percentage of its population (Official estimates place it at 60%) were left homeless and jobless, with nothing to do but search through the rubble for lost family and possessions. United Sanitec swooped in with promises of food and shelter and more importantly, purpose. All the civilians had to do was sign over their lives for a minimum of five years.
This started what became known as the Villist Diaspora, as the lost population spread across the Galaxy to restart their lives.
The Villisians became a strong voice in the Tarlac community and they brought as much of their society with them. Statues were an important way to remember the past for Villisians and they erected many across Tarlac, all of them formed of junk, and many of them of the Hero of Villist, Robert Garry.
As the five year contracts expired, many Villisians, now with enough money to start a real life elsewhere, departed, but a core group stayed behind, happy in their new home.
After a Villist Diaspora documentary in 3299, the ‘junk guardians’ as the statues became known, garnered good popularity, boosting United Sanitec sales and cementing Tarlac as a Villist community outpost.