(More background on And Here The Wheel – this time the planet Villist, a place where Robert Garry’s life was turned upside down in the novel ‘And Here The Wheel‘. There is some story spoilers below. You have been warned…)
Located in the Brohman system, the planet of Villist was colonised by corporate backing in 3068. The first settlement, Vaporum City, nestled against the Sognefjord, the largest of the northern fjords. The initial exports were fish and wood but interesting game was found to the South and hunter tourism quickly out-paced all other industries.
A second city, Tranquille Base, was established in 3099 to support the booming game hunting industry. Imbrium, on the eastern continent, grew from a collection of dissatisfied traders wishing to be free of the hunter-owned Villist Council, the effective government at the time.
Events that had played out many times before through human history reared their ugly head again. Despite warnings and threats of legal action from the Federation, the last of the great Jumbxta, a feathered four legged carnivore, was killed in 3165. The hunters withdrew their attention and money and Villist threatened to collapse in on itself.
Vaporum City, led by the dogged Kristoff family for four generations, had kept interests in many industries and were able to weather the loss of the tourism industry. Imbrium applauded the collapse, but Tranquille Base was hit hard, the population dropping by 90% over the next year. Whole blocks of city were left abandoned and abused and the cities debts continued to increase. The leaders of the city desperately rallied to find some beacon of hope and they found it in Gary Shrike.
Shrike, a retired game and thrill hunter, knew of the potential for white-water action on the river Serene. In a genius marketing move Tranquille was transformed into an outdoor adventure city, attracting the young and fearless. As part of the marketing campaign the university was renamed to Shrike University. “Come to Tranquille to study, come to Tranquille to LIVE.”
Tranquille Base regrew from its own ashes and became a hub of learning and commerce, igniting the telecommunications revolution. The bright star of this revolution, Villist Transfers, moved to Vaporum City in 3270. By 3290, Leonardo Ramunujan had helped established Villist’s revolutionary planetary network, rivalled only by Earth and Achenar. This gave Villist Transfers a dominant marketshare and made it a Galactic brand.
The rise of Tranquille Base also started the tradition of great statues which became the hallmark of Villist society and history. The first of the statues, a giant stone Jumbxta, was erected two blocks from the last statue to be erected, the Robert Garry statue in the Battle of Villist memorial.
Prospecting had been common place in the Shepard Mountains, to the east of Tranquille Base, since 3100 but it wasn’t until a chemist from Ayethi made a connection between his home world’s naturally occurring (but nearly depleted) minerals and the vegetation of Villist. He had discovered a new anti-hyperspace drug and it wasn’t long before both the Federation and the Empire had sent fleets to secure the planet.
Various small level engagements to test combat strengths were the few flare ups in a year of posturing. Spurred by their achievements in converting the ‘Lave Group’ to the Alliance, their Council of Admirals sought to secure a second stronghold beyond the Federation. An Alliance fleet attacked an Imperial scout with stolen Federation weapons, causing the Imperial fleet to retaliate against the Federation. The Federation fleet was caught unawares and the battled remains of the fleet retreated to the asteroid belt. The Alliance fleet stepped in to finish off the Imperials, but the Alliance underestimated the Imperial fleet and were wiped out. The Imperial fleet then began ‘Incendio Totale’ (Total Fire) to eradicate the planet and stop anyone from securing the mineral.
The Federation fleet rallied and with the support of Leonardo Ramanujun were able to defeat the Imperial bombarders. Villist was now nominally under Federation control, but political interests quickly moved on and Villist was left to rebuild by itself.