STW

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Save the World (STW) was an organization founded in the Thunder Empire by an immigrant named The Cold Sword in the autumn of 3915.[1] They were famous for being very wealthy, seemingly perpetually turning poverty into riches wherever they were found. They owned restaurants and other stores, and openly charged customers far higher prices than the label price for the items they sold, but customers kept coming back. This was partly because STW had achieved monopolies on many of the items they sold, and partly because some customers hoped to reach the inner circle of STW's power structure at which the prices were actually lower than advertised. They took their power from the native Thunder people (Altottan citizens are called Thunderers, although this is the name of the primary political party, not an ethnic name.)

STW was notable for thriving on increasing immigration into Altotta, which had in 3886 been taken over by the Thunderers, a strongly racist political party that despised all outsiders. STW promised to despise outsiders just as strongly, but they had a different definition of who the outsiders were.

Contents

Name

STW got its name from its mission to save the world from the Dreamers and the bad habits STW claimed Dreamers had spread to the people of the Thunder Empire.

STW was also known derisively as First World Order by opponents who thought STW was taking a role it didn't deserve.

Business model

STW worked primarily in trade and the manufacture of furniture. Membership and employment were synonymous; all STW members worked for their local chief, and the chiefs worked for the president of STW.

Corporate hierarchy

Each establishment of STW was a base (kàḳa), which was governed by a chief. Each chief had absolute irreproachable power over their members, but no power over any of the other bases. The chief had the only vote in accepting or denying membership in STW, although in bases that were very large, they delegated their authority to trusted members. Below the chiefs and co-chiefs were captains, who were ordinary members, and thus had no power, but were being given jobs in which they exercise authority over other members in preparation for a future promotion. These were generally very few, as each STW base had only one chief.

Trade

STW's private army controlled the only trade route to Baeba, and therefore STW was the Thunder Empire's only distributor of tropical foods and many medicinal plants. They charged the Thunderers high prices for these items, but they also established strongholds in less profitable industries in order to gain the trust of the native population. For example, STW manufactured furniture, even though they knew there was no shortage of wood in the Thunder Empire and few customers would buy expensive furniture from an unfamiliar source.

illegal trade

STW's army also looted towns in Dreamland and in some rebellious areas of Baeba Swamp. Baeba opposed the looting, even of hostile areas, but they could not control STW.

Slavery

STW used slavery both directly and indirectly to achieve its otherwise unattainable gains. They preferred to enslave the people of Dreamland, but also acquired slaves from other nations and even from locals of the Thunder Empire. They invited slaves living in Subumpam and the Oyster Coast, which had once been the economic powerhouses of the planet, to flee their masters and yoke themselves to STW.

Direct slavery

Each STW base had its own assigned slave pool; some slaves would do plantation labor while others would work manufacturing furniture and other simple merchandise. None of the slaves were paid and none were ever set free.

The founder of STW had already owned many slaves when he built the first base in Lypelpyp, but rather than purchase slaves from the existing slaveholders in the Empire, STW sent its army to capture new slaves wherever they could find them. All adult STW members were allowed to keep any slaves they managed to capture on their own, but STW was not obligated to defend these people if their slaves revolted. Thus, there were slaves owned by STW and slaves owned by individuals within STW.

For safety reasons, STW preferred corporate-owned slaves to work in areas that were physically removed from STW's child population, but some trusted slaves were assigned to menial jobs in the orphanages and schools such as preparing the kids' meals and cleaning their bathrooms. Young children returning from their first day at STW would walk home and tell their parents they had been waited on hand and foot and felt for the first time in their life what it truly meant to be powerful.

Indirect slavery

STW also used slave labor indirectly by trading with slaveowners in Baeba Swamp. STW hoped to dominate the trade of merchandise produced by slave labor, thus forcing non-STW traders to buy products from free laborers which STW deemed less efficient.

Child labor

STW also employed many children of diverse origins. They had inherited the practice of child labor from the Crystals who founded STW. When STW opened a new base, the common people noticed that the membership consisted mostly of children. STW paid its child laborers with wages comparable to those earned by adults in the wider Empire, which was possible only because of STW's vast profit margin; STW had a monopoly on many of the products they sold, and could charge their customers high prices.

Much of STW's work was done in plain sight, and small children were openly seen counting and sorting items, loading wagons, and delivering meals for both the adult STW members and each other. The children worked long hours, and some showed signs of physical exhaustion, but when adults in the wider world asked the STW children why they worked so hard, the kids told the adults how much STW paid them each day, and many adults became interested in STW themselves.

Child laborers were sometimes sorted by mood; happy laborers were assigned to workplaces near the center of town or in otherwise highly visible areas, while unhappy laborers were placed near captured adult slaves. At the end of each day, STW would hand the grumpy child laborers a large sum of money and show them that the adults working alongside them had earned nothing. Thus, with each day, STW reminded the children that their lives could have been much worse had they not joined STW. Child laborers who still complained were punished severely, but no punishment ever deprived them of their money.

Illegal immigration

STW thrived on illegal immigration. They hated the Dreamers, but they invited immigrants from Paba to move into Altotta and join STW, even though Paba had generally been seen as a hostile and at best untrustworthy nation, little better than Dreamland in the eyes of some Thunderers. The least among the Pabaps was considered superior in STW to the greatest among the non-STW Thunderers. Likewise, STW violated the Thunder Empire's prohibition of Crystal immigration by enrolling many Crystals into their workforce.

Currency

STW minted a private currency that only STW members could earn: the asala. Asala coins were made of iron and thus very cheap to acquire and mint. They were also easy to counterfeit, but STW had no problem with this because, since the asala coins could only be spent at STW, they kept a running tally of each member's balance and therefore could refuse a transaction from an STW member whom they recognized as having spent all their coins. Members were allowed to donate asala coins to non-members, and to trade them for goods or labor, but all such transactions had to be reported to STW, and for some members, STW demanded that the transactions be reported before they occurred.

Asala coins were awarded for good deeds, and had no limit. For students, graduating to a new grade also conferred an award in asala, with the amount almost doubling for each grade. Thus, although all child laborers had vastly inflated incomes respective to their labor, students in the 8th grade had much greater total wealth and many could buy their own houses. Some of these students were as young as 10 years old.

Although STW introduced the currency with a claimed exchange rate of 1:1 against the imperial indasi, in fact the asala was constantly getting weaker against the indasi because STW kept minting new asala coins and new indasi coins were minted only very slowly. STW refused to change its official exchange rate, and therefore the real exchange rate fluctuated wildly according to the needs of both parties. Some STWers convinced outsiders that the 1:1 exchange rate was real and thus obtained enormous sums of money. STW sometimes sent newly enrolled child laborers home to their apprehensive parents with indasi instead of asala, such that children would out-earn their parents and offer to buy their parents new furniture at STW. This was risky, however, because the children could not always be made to spend the money at STW.

The real value of the asala was centralized and therefore identical everywhere within STW. Within a few decades, the asala was worth less than one fifth of an indasi, and STW members could only fool the very most gullible of outsiders.

Adult salaries

Adults joining STW tended to graduate very quickly, and their first year in STW could earn them more money than they had ever made before, as they could potentially receive all eight graduation prizes within a single calendar year. But after graduation, their salaries stalled at levels scarcely higher than those of the child laborers. This was because STW expected adult members to proactively create wealth rather than merely trading their labor for wealth.

Furthermore, adults were required to provide an explanation whenever they chose to withdraw money or convert it to indasi. By contrast, STW encouraged child laborers to spend large sums of money frivolously, because child laborers mostly spent their money within STW, but adults made purchases that could affect the wider world.

Retail operations

STW's merchants built stores in which merchandise was placed in a stockroom and cashiers stood in a row to fetch items requested by each customer. This was the typical design for stores of the time; there was no customer-accessible merchandise area. Often, STW placed their stores near rival stores with lower prices but poor selection, and then claimed to be superior.

Stores were open to both members and non-members, with their respective prices listed next to each item. The price gap varied arbitrarily; a chair might cost twice as much for a non-member, but a matching table could cost five times as much. These price gaps were often due to supply issues, as members would know which items were in short supply while other customers would not. Sometimes, members' prices for low-demand items would actually be below cost, to encourage the members to buy up the product and make room for other items. Some STW members also bought items and resold them later outside STW. STW approved of this because there were some non-members who had friends in STW, and could buy from them at a price below STW's non-member price while still earning a profit for the member.

Prices for members were displayed in STW's private currency, the asala, while non-members' prices were listed in the imperial indasi. Thus, although all customers knew that STW was charging higher prices to non-members, the ratio was not always clear because non-members could not own asala and most did not keep track of the exchange rate.

Abuse of customers

Arbitrary price increases

STW sold their products at high prices. Menus listing the prices of each item were posted in easily visible areas on the walls, but the cashiers paid little attention to them when selling to non-members. Where the price lists made clear that non-members would be made to pay higher prices than members did, in fact the cashiers routinely charged non-members even higher prices than what they advertised. A typical customer wanting a pineapple might see the sign listing its price as 500 indasi, but when the cashier retrieved it, she could deliberately misread the price as 1500 indasi and charge the customer accordingly. Another customer behind her might get the same pineapple for 550 indasi, depending on the cashier's whims; all of the power was in the hands of the cashiers.

Some cashiers raised the price in the middle of a transaction to see how much money they could extract from a customer before the customer would walk out empty-handed. Sometimes, a cashier would yell out a number, and the customer was required to pay the cashier a non-refundable fee of that many indasi if they wanted to be allowed to continue the transaction.

Chores for non-members

Some STW stores forced non-members to do additional work while they were in the store. For example, if a member was purchasing a heavy table, a non-member might be asked to help lift it so that the employees could focus on other things. Non-members were thus only allowed to shop when the employees had no chores for them to do. In some stores there were separate lines for members and non-members, but members could always skip to the front of the non-members' line if they did not want to wait at the back of their own line.

Ḳăha

Customers who had paid for their orders were told to wait in a cordoned-off area of the store while the cashiers went into the stockroom to retrieve the requested merchandise. Some customers placed their orders, paid, and then waited patiently only to be told that the cashier was running behind schedule and had decided to move on to the next customer. The customer would not get their money back and could not complain. Then, the customer would be forced to walk out empty-handed or pay a second time and hope to get their merchandise sometime before sunset. This practice was called ḳăha, and was the most risky move a cashier could make in their battle against the customer, but STW allowed it, and customers usually submitted to it.

Competitions

Cashiers held competitions to see who could cheat their customers the most. Customers sometimes switched from one cashier to another to get a better price, but in many stores where this happened, the cashiers signed agreements stating that any customers who switched would be made to pay higher and higher prices every time they switched lines. Customers in this situation either submitted to the abuse or avoided STW altogether. However, as STW grew, it became harder for customers to avoid shopping there, and those who refused to publicly submit would thus need to send other people to shop for them.

Some cashiers disliked competitions, instead cooperating with each other to define what the price of an item should be. This meant generally more reliable prices for the customers, but even so, each cashier in such a group was allowed to file a dispute with another for not charging a customer enough, and force that cashier to raise her prices in the middle of the transaction.

Effects of abuse

STW allowed its cashiers to keep all of the money they had won by cheating their customers, which meant that the mostly-female cashiers were among the best-paid people in all of STW. Males' wages were typically lower than females, but also more reliable because each chief would pay the boys for their work according to a set formula that depended only on their production. Even if an item was in low demand and could only be sold at a low price, the boys would still receive their expected daily wages. There were also older boys involved in lifting heavy furniture, and these could force customers to pay them an additional fee for the task of transporting the furniture. Because of the hostile environment inside the stores, smaller children were generally not placed in jobs close to the customers.

Blessed customers

An inner circle of loyal customers were granted the coveted privilege of getting their products for prices that were actually lower than the advertised prices. None of the customers knew what they needed to do to get this privilege, nor were they told what the secret was once they had been granted it. Indeed, STW did not require a reason; the chiefs assigned the privilege at their pleasure. The chiefs of STW were the only people allowed to grant this power, and therefore the regular STW members did not understand it either. This was intentional, as STW wanted to make sure there were very few happy customers in their society and that the ones they had would be forever grateful for their blessings.

The blessed customers typically became resellers. Resellers became very powerful in their society, since they could buy things for their friends at low prices, and STW allowed them to resell their merchandise. Some STW stores even allowed these customers to resell their merchandise on STW's property, since they knew that STW could dispose of undesirable items more quickly if the customers could see them. Cashiers could not abuse the resellers by unexpectedly raising their prices.

Resellers thus occupied a middle tier in the hierarchy between the members who paid wholesale prices and the non-members who paid often high prices which could vary at the whim of the cashiers. Because they paid with indasi, their prices occasionally dropped lower than the STW members' own prices as exchange rates fluctuated faster than the stores could update their price lists. However, when this happened, STW members were allowed to also pay with indasi.

In towns where STW approached monopoly status, the resellers became very rich, and most chose to make power-shopping their career, collecting the royalties from their secondhand customers. STW allowed this because even the reduced prices were still usually profitable for STW, and the large purchases of the resellers guaranteed them high profits. STW reserved the right to revoke the discount privilege if a reseller attempted to open an actual physical store with preowned STW merchandise in it, or was seen buying goods at low prices for an immigrant from the hated empire of Dreamland or one of STW's individual enemies.

Customers' reactions

STW's stranglehold on trade allowed them to abuse their customers without fear of reproach. Their private army protected their trade route and ensured that STW kept full control of traffic in both directions, even for business unrelated to STW. No other store could sell merchandise comparable to STW's, nor could the government clamp down on STW without losing its trade with Baeba.

Most customers understood that they had no power and therefore did not try to rebel against STW. Those who did revolt were often attacked by other customers, who worried that the cashiers would assign higher prices to any customers who did not unite to push out the rebellious customers.

Some customers responded to STW's abuse by simply joining STW. However, STW had little interest in skilled labor; their wages for adults were the same regardless of whether the prospective member was a farm laborer or a doctor. Furthermore, they required all adult males to join STW's military, and adult females were often assigned to jobs along trade routes that were just as dangerous as the men's. Thus, customers who joined STW to gain access to low prices in STW's stores were required to make important sacrifices in other areas of their lives. Since the chief's approval was required to enroll a new member, STW generally restricted enrollment of adult members to those who were a good fit for their business model.

STW called its rival businesses "the Empire" and stated that citizens of the Thunder Empire should shop at STW because it was a political organization opposed to the monopoly on power held by the imperial government. STW claimed that governments should have rivals within their own nation in order to keep them from becoming too corrupt. STW claimed to be interested in expanding worldwide, but had bases only in the Thunder Empire.

STW appealed to citizens' obligation to care for children, because STW owned one orphanage for every store, and therefore they portrayed any attack against their stores as an attack against their orphanages.

Armed attacks on rival businesses

STW store managers often robbed rival stores, but generally restricted these actions to stores run by immigrants, particularly Dreamers, because they knew that the public opinion of STW would turn sharply negative if they were seen attacking the native Thunderers. (Even though the Dreamers were enslaved, the Empire allowed Dreamer traders to own and operate stores by pretending to be natives.)

STW celebrated each successful robbery, claiming the common people supported the robberies, and put up signs outside their stores advertising that they were selling merchandise that had been stolen from the immigrants. The immigrants were unable to retaliate because all of STW's stores were heavily guarded. The national government was unable to help the immigrants for the same reason, along with the fact that if the national police were seen helping Dreamers even indirectly, they could put themselves at risk of losing their jobs or being attacked by a mob.

STW claimed the Thunder government supported the robberies as well, but had let the Dreamers stay in the Empire because the Thunderers were too weak economically to thrive on their own, and Dreamland provided them a link to a wealthy coastal nation. They noted that the imperial government did not punish non-STW storeowners who also stole merchandise from the Dreamers, but that this happened less often because these people did not have their own army whereas STW did.

Restaurants

STW also owned a chain of restaurants. At first they closely imitated the business model of the restaurants around them, but as they grew, some went their own ways. They had access to food items that other restaurants could not easily obtain, but most of their food was nonetheless sourced locally and similar to that served in nearby restaurants. However, they allowed their restaurants great freedom to choose their own menus, and some STW restaurants specialized in exotic foods after all.

Background

Most restaurants in the Thunder Empire were owned by single families, and employed the entire family, including the children. Some families hired unskilled laborers, including children, if they could not run the restaurant alone or if they wanted to open a second location. Restaurants also sold uncooked food for customers to take home. Some essential food items were subsidized by the government, and both STW and the traditional restaurants could thus sell those foods very cheaply and still make a profit.

Most of the Empire's restaurants were run from people's houses, and were open so long as the family was awake and had food to spare. However, a typical family-run restaurant had room for only a few customers at one time, and a limited amount of prepared food was available at any given time. Customers typically had only one or two meals available to choose from, because even a family capable of cooking dozens of meals would only be able to work on one or two at a time. Most customers expected to have food ready for them when they entered, rather than having to wait for their hosts to cook.

Comparison to traditional restaurants

Staff

STW's restaurants had many more staff for their size than did the traditional restaurants. Most of the time, there were more workers than diners in each restaurant. Most of the workers in STW's restaurants were young children. Because non-STW restaurants also employed children, the public did not see this as child abuse or ask the children if they were being exploited. However, STW's practice was different because they employed children taken from their wider pool of orphans and other child laborers, and there were no family ties. Furthermore, most of the child laborers in restaurants were very young, because they expected the diners, even STW members, to do most of the work while the children concerned themselves mostly with delivering the food from the kitchen to the table.

Because the workforce was so young, most employees spent only a few years working for the restaurant before moving on. Some STW bases considered the child's time working in the restaurant to be merely one course in school, and therefore children often spent less than a year working there. Despite the rapidly overturning workforce, the restaurants' policies were set externally and did not change nearly so much from year to year.

When STW gained access to Paba, they soon began to open new restaurants where all of the workers were from Paba and most did not speak the language of their customers. They could communicate the names of their dishes and do basic arithmetic, but they could not understand the customers' complaints.

Promotion

Whereas most restaurants did not spend much effort on advertisement, STW advertised its restaurants just as they advertised their stores. As with their stores, they appealed to people's moral convictions and told them that to eat at an STW restaurant would help feed orphans and children that STW's private army had rescued from abusive parents that the national government had refused to arrest.

Relations with customers

STW's restaurants were much less abusive of their customers than their retail employees were, because there was no realistic way to achieve a monopoly on prepared food. Also, the markup on food was minimal in general, so non-members paid similar or slightly higher prices than those of members. Prices were listed in indasi only to make money collection easier for the children in charge.

Although STW's restaurants did not grossly mistreat their customers, there were some practices borrowed from their retail operations. For example, non-members were required to do household chores before they could order food, and could be made to get up in the middle of their meal to clean up a mess made by a member seated in a different part of the restaurant. STW sometimes tightened the lids on the bottles they sold, knowing that diners would need to ask for help, and could then be charged a higher price, as the children would need to call for help from the adult male soldiers who provided security. Thus, even in their restaurants, they reminded their customers that life was better for members of STW.

Wages in restaurants

Wages in the restaurants were typically lower than in the retail stores, but STW adhered to a centralized pay schedule, ensuring that even a restaurant that was losing money each day would still receive enough money to pay its employees. This security was unattainable for the small family-owned restaurants they competed with, and STW's restaurants sometimes outlasted their competitors. The drawback of this model was that restaurant employees had no drive to exceed their customers' expectations, and both food quality and customer service were notoriously poor.

Customers and rival restaurant owners could not understand how a chain based on child labor could overstaff their restaurants, pay the employees high wages regardless of performance, sell their food at a very low price, and yet turn a profit while the traditional restaurants with efficient labor, small workforces, and better food struggled to stay open. STW never shared its business tactics with outsiders, so their restaurants advanced while the family-owned restaurants continually receded during STW's first few decades in business. But the secret was simple: because STW paid its employees in asala, even those employees who were vastly overpaid relative to their performance spent most of their money at STW's stores and therefore drove in profits. As STW was the only corporation with a widely circulating private currency, no other restaurant or retail store could do what STW did.

Menus and pricing

As with traditional restaurants of the time, there was often only one or two meals available for customers to choose from at any one time.

Some STW restaurants tried to undersell their competitors by serving poorly prepared food at very low prices; this was the opposite of STW's retail model, where they admitted to high prices but claimed their merchandise was superior. Some restaurants, particularly those with few adult employees, abandoned money and exchanged meals only for tokens that could be bought at STW's local retail store. These tokens were intended to buy one quarter of a standard meal, so that someone with a smaller appetite could pay two or three tokens while someone with a larger appetite could pay many more. These tokens never expired, and some customers bought them hundreds at a time from STW's stores. STW's stores adjusted the prices constantly to keep pace with inflation, but sometimes the price hikes outpaced inflation for a period of time to allow STW to reap more profits.

Order-on-demand

Only a small number of STW restaurants allowed customer-driven orders, and these charged extremely high prices to customers because to cook a specially prepared meal meant slowing down the preparation of the many other meals they could have made all at once. In one town in the far north, STW built a restaurant named What the Kids Made just a few yards from its orphanage. This restaurant specialized in serving exotic foods, some from the tropics and others from difficult natural environments nearby. Diners here paid high prices simply for the rights to eat foods such as dolphin stew that none of their friends ever would. Some foods were not even legal, but STW's fleet of fishing boats soon became the dominant naval power in the northern sea, and the imperial police abandoned any attempts at control.

Prices at What the Kids Made were a hundredfold higher than STW's average price for a meal, and they often served only one meal per day, which in many cases had to be pre-ordered well in advance and then scheduled around other customers' pre-orders. True to its name, the restaurant employed dozens of young children, but unlike most STW restaurants, adults were required to transport the customers' orders and prepare each meal to ensure the customers would find them well worth their prices.

STW did not invest in this model because they saw it as unreliable and too easy for competitors to imitate. Indeed, STW soon opened a second restaurant in that same town, with a completely different menu and much lower prices. This was the first time that they had opened two restaurants in one town.

Variety

Some restaurants served meals consisting of a single ingredient, while others, such as A Perfect Fit, offered diverse meals served in five separate bowls. A restaurant called Soldiers and Sheep offered food for animals, not just people. It was located in a basement.

Alcohol

STW allowed the sale of alcohol in its restaurants, and considered itself above the law with regard to local regulations on alcohol consumption. In its first few decades, STW quickly expanded into Paba and enrolled many Pabap people, who helped deliver wine from Paba to the northern areas of the Empire. Paba's cuisine had for over a thousand years been notoriously unappetizing, so the restaurants employing Pabaps typically served food familiar to the area of the STW base they worked at, and Pabaps living in the north were mostly known for their wine.

Wine was typically sold in bottles with lids too tight for the young employees to open, so customers would need to call for help from the adult male security guards each time they wanted another drink. STW never opened a bar, however; the sale of food was always primary.

Grape wine was imported from Paba while palm wine was imported from Baeba Swamp. When STW began opening restaurants in Paba, they served wine very cheaply because they no longer needed to transport it. However, they did not try to undercut other wine sellers in Paba, as STW did not have a monopoly on wine production there.

Locations

Because STW's restaurants employed small children, they were always placed close to STW's orphanages so the children could walk quickly to and from work. In some towns, STW's base was located downtown and their restaurants were thus able to directly compete against the more expensive restaurants that had preceded their arrival. In other towns, however, STW was located at the edge of town, and their restaurants had little nearby competition. In the latter case the owners of the restaurant were more likely to charge high prices and sell well-prepared food to bring in people who would not otherwise stop to eat. This required hiring an adult cook to work alongside the many children, though even here, this adult was often simply one of the security guards that were present at all other STW restaurants.

On rare occasions, STW bought and repurposed preexisting buildings to use as restaurants. A restaurant called the Prize Bowl ( Poqʷăxa ) was within a converted outdoor temple that had fallen out of use except for celebrations.

Naming of restaurants

All STW restaurants were clearly labeled as such so they could attract customers who supported STW but knew little about its operation. Unlike the family restaurants they competed with, there was usually no family name on the sign outside, but rather an advertising name such as the Fishhook Row (Nepōka) in Paba and What the Kids Made (Hùnade ) near the north coast. The official name of the restaurant was always in Khulls, but translations and pictures were often placed beneath or around the Khulls name on the sign. As the second name shows, STW was proud of its ability to put children to work.

Reception and feedback

The owners of family restaurants hated STW's restaurants even more than independent merchants hated STW's retail stores. When they realized they were losing business to a corporation run by small children, many chefs closed their restaurants and fled in disgust to towns with no STW bases.

Internal conflicts

Other outsiders criticized the restaurants for other reasons, however, such as notoriously poor customer service and unreliable food. The employees at Hide in the Pines, located in Wawiabi , went on strike and served their customers empty plates after the customers had paid for the food. They asked the customers to show their solidarity by fasting. Workers at Silly Bill, high in the mountains north of Lypelpyp, twice revolted against their manager, who compromised each time by promising to cheat the customers who came to the restaurant and allow the children to keep the extra money. During the second revolt, the manager actually approached the children first and asked if they were angry, as she was herself angry at her chief.

Other restaurants lost business due to stubborn habits of the young employees. The Fishhook Row restaurant was notorious for its employees' inability to understand their customers, and its insistence that customers wave their arms at the children before they would be addressed. In this restaurant, long-time customers laughed at the ones who complained, assuring them that the food made it worthwhile.

Disappointments

The Western Habitat Import restaurant, located on a circular road in Paba, was known for both sloppiness and high prices. Unlike most restaurants in Paba, they sold exotic food imported from the equatorial zone, but the employees didn't understand foreign cuisine and so simply dumped food into bowls and mixed unpalatable ingredients together. The employees didn't eat this food, and weren't bothered by their own bad habits. After five years, STW reformed the restaurant's business practices, but because the staff was recycled so quickly, the original bad habits reappeared shortly afterward. This led STW to reform the business practices again and focus more on traditional food, as well as food for animals. Even so, they still sold imported foods because they had reliable access to trade from the tropics.

Sometimes the cashiers forgot to tell the prices or mishandled the money after they were paid. A security guard picked up and threw out a young female customer at the Snowy Spruce Hill in Paba when she complained about being charged triple the actual price for a meal that she had thrown back in disgust.

As STW expanded, they began drawing in immigrants from Paba. STW made little effort to teach these Pabap children to speak either Khulls or the local language of each STW base, and so customers entered the restaurants only capable of rudimentary communication, and unable to complain. Yet, many customers enjoyed the Pabap-staffed restaurants because newly arrived Pabap STWers were untrained in the abusive tactics of the wider STW workforce. One such restaurant served customers vastly oversized portions of food, paying no attention at all to money, simply because the workers did not want to ever see an angry customer. Yet STW let them stay open for several years before attempting to educate the workers. The citizenry helped keep the restaurant open by controlling their own behavior and mostly sending young children into the restaurant to eat.

Non-retail operations

Orphanages

STW built expansive orphanages in each town they did business in, showing they could solve a problem the government could not. The children in the orphanages were fed well and kept safe from danger, and although they were forced to work for a living, they were allowed to keep their entire salary, and did not have to pay for the room and board. Furthermore, STW never asked the government to compensate them for their generosity. STW knew that it was difficult to feed and shelter children for free, pay them for their labor, and yet turn a profit, but they were willing to lose money running orphanages in order to sway public opinion in their favor.

Before building each new orphanage, STW's employees surveyed the town to find what basic need was most difficult to meet for the townspeople. Then, they ensured the missing good would be in ready supply within the orphanage, and also readily available for a price at STW's private stores. If they could not find an unmet basic need, they would try to create one. In one town, STW established a monopoly on scissors and glue, and even though most locals had never heard of either, they soon flocked to STW's stores to buy those items.

STW's orphans spent much of their time outdoors, and sometimes invited parented non-STW children to tour the building with them. Life in the orphanage was difficult and stressful, but many parented children had difficult home lives as well, and saw the orphanage as a potential escape from their abusive parents. STW had expected this, and they announced that their orphanages were open to all young children, regardless of their family status. STW further promised that any children who ran away from their parents to join STW would be kept safe, and that if their parents entered STW's property to get their kids back, STW's private army would arrest the parents and would reserve the right to inflict further punishments. STW promised no exceptions to this rule; even a toddler, barely able to walk and wholly unable to work, would be sheltered and kept safe inside the orphanage.

However, STW never sent its adult members out on the streets to attract children to join STW; the only members allowed to invite children to STW were STW's own children. Likewise, STW forbade its members from interfering in non-STW parents' lives in order to pull their children away; the children had to come on their own.

When the Thunder Empire learned what was happening, they sided with STW, saying that abusive parents deserved to lose their children, and that any parents whose children voluntarily ran away to work at STW must be very abusive indeed. Thus STW presented itself as the strongest ally of underprivileged children, and stated that their mere existence would help keep parents in line. Previously, the Thunder Empire's government had recused itself from familial affairs, and even severe child abuse had gone largely unpunished. Thus STW provided the government an excuse for its own inaction, and although the government was worried about STW's quickly growing power, they promised to let STW expand its orphanage operations without limit.

STW planned to become the only organized operator of orphanages in the Empire so that any threat to STW as a whole would be seen by outsiders as a direct attack on the orphans. They wanted to ensure that even criticizing STW would lead to accusations of disregard for the orphans.

Schools

STW built schools in separate buildings from the orphanages and stores, though they were typically very close by since students needed to walk between the buildings on their own. Each school had the same structure: there were eight grades, and each grade had only one teacher. Teachers were ordinary STW members, with no special authority, and children could work at their own pace or skip school whenever they felt like it. This enabled STW students to spend leisure time in the town, going places other kids could not, despite their overall heavy workload. Although children in the host empire were also allowed to skip school, students in the imperial schools were expected to progress at a rapid rate and therefore students who skipped too many days would fall behind their peers and be rejected. By contrast, STW's children had a strong motivation to succeed because graduation was mandatory and STW withheld important privileges from students until they graduated, but because some children studied harder than others, those who took longer felt less shame by comparison. Thus, although many students attended STW school only irregularly, by necessity they were the ones who were most able to study on their own.

Regardless of age, new students were always enrolled in the first grade, and since all new members were required to attend school, this rule applied even to adults. However, adults typically graduated through the grades very quickly, and spent much of their class time tutoring the children.

Although STW's students spent many hours in their classrooms, their education was typically inferior to the education in the imperial schools. STW could only teach skills its existing members had, and therefore, STW children learned the same things their parents and teachers knew, mostly focused on cooking, carpentry, and the basic skills required for trade and transportation of foreign goods. This frustrated STW members, but so long as STW maintained its control over trade, they ensured that manual laborers and retail workers would be among the best-paid people in the Empire.

Some students found the classwork too difficult, and never made it through the 8th grade. STW refused to waive the graduation requirements, and these people thus became perpetual students, and STW assigned ungraduated adults the least desirable and most dangerous work, claiming that the safer jobs required a better education.

Non-members were not allowed to enter the schools, even by invitation from members. Therefore, enrollment was limited to members.

Newspapers

STW soon produced its own weekly newspapers, available for free to members and for a price to non-members. These were sold in the retail stores alongside other merchandise. All writing was in Khulls, even though the majority language of their host nation was the distantly related Oyster language. Stamps were the only means of reproducing printed words, and although STW distributed elaborate templates to streamline the writing of commonly used headers and sections of text, the dynamic content still needed to be inked by hand. Prices were thus quite high; the first complete newspaper retailed for 90,000 indasi, and when it went unsold, the authors raised the price to 200,000 indasi.[2] Both of these figures were more than the typical monthly salary of their customers, which STW justified on the basis that the writing had occupied more than a week's worth of effort from several STW employees working together. STW soon produced evidence that prices were higher still in Baeba Swamp, the only other place in the world known to have access to newspapers, but when their papers continued to go unsold, STW admitted that production costs were in fact quite low and reduced their prices drastically. They also began to allow the sale of incomplete newspapers at lower prices.

STW members were allowed to purchase the papers for free, but were also required to share them with other STW members for free, and the entire staff at each STW base thus typically shared a single copy of each week's newspaper.

Reporting

There was no central news authority in STW; each newspaper was wholly independent, even in areas where two STW bases existed just a few miles apart. STW obtained its information in various ways; children reported events they saw while they were outdoors each day, and adult male soldiers fed STW information about happenings further out. Pro-active reporting was uncommon, as the people of the Empire were not familiar with the concept, and rejected STW children who asked too many questions of the adults around them. Therefore the newspapers contained relatively little important information, and much of the content was meaningful only to other STW members.

STW also wrote stories aimed at non-members such as secondhand reporting of current events from a viewpoint favorable to STW. However, non-members typically showed little interest in this, and purchased the newspapers primarily because STW deliberately leaked minor internal secrets in the papers, leading those who read the newspapers to know more about STW's inner workings than those who did not. Many of these subscribers soon found themselves drawn to join STW.

Archival

STW also bound spare copies of each newspaper into volumes for record keeping. These were the only books published directly by STW. Often the books would contain information that had never been published in the original newspapers, which led a small number of people to purchase copies of the books as well.

Rivalry

The Empire soon imitated STW's newspaper service with a government-issued newspaper written in the common language instead of Khulls. Nevertheless, the knowledge that STW had been first soon spread through the Empire, and this further increased the status of STW.

Trading ships

Early STW built many large trading ships, powered by rows of slaves rowing oars. Many ships were owned by individual STW bases rather than by STW as a whole, and teachers taught classes to children who boarded these ships. When the ship reached its destination the children would take a break from their classwork so they could load the new cargo onto the ship.

As STW grew inland, the importance of shipping declined, so few new ships were built. Yet, when STW reached the north and south coasts, they again began building fleets of ships to travel far out to sea. In the north, they caught exotic fish to serve in their restaurants; even dolphin meat was available, though rarely requested. STW's restaurants would take orders ahead of time and deliver the meal at their earliest convenience. In the south, however, few people were interested in exotic seafood.

Although STW's trading ships were prepared for combat, STW did not consider them to be a navy. They promised that they would direct all of their military efforts towards their land army.

Army

All STW adult males were in the army, but much of their duty was noncombative, and in many ways similar to the labor they had performed when they were children. Nonetheless, STW assigned its most dangerous jobs to adults, and most adults in STW were married couples whose children were also in STW. Adults could quit STW, but in doing so they would forfeit all their asala, pay higher prices at STW's stores, and lower the social status of their children. Few adults resigned, but some worked relatively little and thus became poorer as they got older.

STW's adult laborers' wages were only slightly higher than those of their children, although adults had powers the children did not. STW paid adults such low wages because they expected adults to be able to acquire new wealth in battle rather than only relying on their employer.

Military campaigns

STW saw its soldiers as mercenaries, and allowed soldiers to disobey their commanders so long as they did not attack other STW members. Chiefs assigned missions, but each soldier had the right to reject a mission. Similarly, soldiers could start private battles on their own, without asking STW for permission, and although STW would not pay them for these endeavors, STW promised that such people could always take shelter at an STW base if they needed to flee back to safety.

Theft and robbery

STW's adult male soldiers were allowed to break the laws of the Empire. For example, soldiers often stole merchandise or money from outside STW and converted it into STW's private currency so that it could not be recovered. However, whereas STW asked no questions when members brought money to deposit into STW's bank, each member was required to provide an explanation when they chose to withdraw money or convert it to indasi. This applied even to the chiefs.

Legal system

STW considered itself sovereign over its privately owned land, and also over its members even when they traveled outside STW.

Just as STW allowed its members to commit crimes outside STW and then seek safety in STW, STW allowed and expected the imperial police force to entirely ignore crimes against STW members wherever they occurred. Instead, STW's army was tasked with protecting its people from outsiders and from each other. There were no formal trials; the army captured and executed people according to its whims.

Execution and expulsion

Execution was almost entirely reserved for non-STWers. Members were merely expelled and STW allowed them to continue their lives in the wider world. Indeed, even people who were expelled from STW for serious crimes were considered legally superior in STW to people who had never joined. Most expellees were adult males, but some were women. Angry men sometimes returned to STW and attacked the members who had expelled them, and since these were usually female, male-on-female violence became a longstanding problem at STW. For this reason, STW's army kept close watch on any STW base that had recently expelled a member. The very few STW members who were killed were mostly those who seemed too risky to let free.

Rules for children

Although STW could expel children as well, they preferred to instead punish misbehaving children by assigning them more difficult labor tasks and keeping their salaries the same. However, although children's punishments were much more lenient than those of adults, they were also subjected to much stricter control. STW considered many basic behaviors to be legal for adults but illegal for children.[3] For example, children in the orphanages had to be in bed by dark, even in winter,[4] and to stay up late was not merely bad behavior but actually a crime. Children were also required to help prepare their own meals, and to skip a meal was also a crime.

Refusing a difficult or dangerous job was illegal as well; one day six boys were injured while collecting snakes to sell for food, but STW sent them back out into the field and threatened a severe punishment if they tried to return early again.

The chiefs threatened to punish misbehaving children with spears (tŋ̇ta), and children in the Thunder Empire were accustomed to severe corporal punishment from their parents. But in STW, nearly all punishment of children was inflicted by other children, and at most STW bases, the spears were never brought out. Instead, STW relied on children's instincts to promote group mentality and humiliate those who deviated from the crowd. Bullying was coopted into STW's power structure by directing the children's natural aggressions towards those children who failed to conform by following the rules.

Relations with the imperial law system

The imperial police generally gave way when STW's army arrived to punish non-STW citizens. When a man assaulted a small boy in an STW restaurant for delivering him the wrong meal, the man soon fled the scene and explained that because STW deliberately pushed children into dangerous situations, he had not committed a crime. He thus returned to his home and went about his life as though nothing had happened. However, STW's army soon located and killed the man, and the Empire did not press STW for an explanation even though STW had provided no evidence of the crime.

Recruitment and growth

New members joined STW by invitation, and each new member had to be approved by the chief. A newly founded Base generally started with a small membership consisting of leaders who had moved in from another Base, bringing their children with them. These children would meet the other Thunder children in day to day life, and make friends with them even though they did not go to school together. Then they would invite their friends to join STW. Adults were recruited less often, despite their much greater economic value, because the economy of Altotta at this time was such that adults could not easily bring their jobs with them to STW. However, a non-STWer who had children in STW would be treated better by STW than Thunderers who refused to let their children join STW.

Early growth

STW got its first taste of power in the Thunder Empire city of Lypelpyp, in the state of Kavi, near the Thunder Empire's border with the Crystal Empire.

Immigration

In the very early years of STW's existence, it relied largely on immigration to grow. These immigrants were all illegal, because the Thunder government had shut down immigration entirely to protect itself from the threat of yet another coup leading to a new government dominated by foreigners. STW thus was embarrassing Altotta by proudly violating the laws, but Altotta couldn't stop the immigration because the STW members stuck firmly to each other, and STW was popular enough that even Thunderers who were outside STW did not call for the closure of STW bases simply because they were hosting illegal immigrants.

Only four years after STW's founding, the Thunderers overthrew their government yet again. This time, however, the group taking power also considered itself a Thunder organization, and merely wanted to reform the government rather than replacing it. They released the Crystal slaves (but not most Dreamers) and allowed immigration to return in limited numbers. They did not publicly admit that what they had privately known: that immigration was going to continue no matter what the law was, and that by legalizing immigration they could at least potentially limit the power of STW. However, they were still worried that immigrants would all favor STW, and that if STW became powerful enough they could find themselves living in a society with Thunderers at the very bottom and the Crystals and the other immigrant groups piled on top of them.

History and politics

Early history

On its first day of business, STW declared war against Dreamland. They committed themselves to an alliance with the radical Scope party, which was already fighting a privately financed war against Dreamland. To raise members' enthusiasm for the war, STW painted expensive murals on the city walls portraying diapered STW toddlers repulsing an invading Dreamer army. However, STW protected its members very dutifully, and STW's main contribution to the new private war involved providing food and supplies to the far more robust Scope army.

STW created the name Lindasi for iteslf in contexts where it wanted to be seen as a country. Names like "Lindasia" for their territory thus were created. STW declared that it was not a political party, but merely a political and economic organization, and therefore STW also allowed its members to maintain their private religious and political beliefs within its power structure so long as they obeyed the corporate directives of STW.

Contact with the Crystals

STW strongly hated the enslaved Crystals living in the Empire, and said that even slavery was too good for them. Most early STW members were converts from the Crystals, and therefore they considered Crystals who refused to join STW to be their greatest enemies.

Crystal response

Although STW described its labor system as a refinement of the Crystal plantation system which had been in operation for thousands of years, the Crystals claimed STW had grossly distorted Crystal principles and that despite their orphanage operations, STW's main accomplishment in the world was to promote severe child abuse. They kept records of incidents they heard about, such as the six boys who were bitten by snakes and were then sent back out to collect more snakes. Some Crystals wanted to invade the Thunder Empire and fight against only STW, but they had little chance of gaining support for such a war since the Empire and STW had become close allies even as STW exploited the Empire more and more each year.

Relations with Laba

STW also declared a symbolic war against the distant nation of Laba, west of Dreamland, which could neither harm nor be harmed by STW. Many Laban leaders wanted to invade the Empire, but the shortest route from Laba to the Empire was through Dreamland, and the Dreamers were not interested in such a war as they knew it would hurt them far more than it would hurt Laba.

In 3919, the Thunder government was overthrown by dissenters from within who wanted an end to state-sponsored racism and newer, more liberal laws. STW had horrified the Thunder government by rapidly changing Lypelpyp into a Crystal-majority city, when the Thunderers prided themselves that they had thrown off the yoke of the Crystals. As STW grew richer, the Thunderers realized non-STW Thunderers were going to be at the bottom of society with STW and all its immigrants on top. Although the government was overthrown only four years after the founding of STW, and the borders re-opened, social attitudes did not quickly change, and many Thunderers assumed that anyone of visibly non-Lenian ancestry was an STW member.

The new government still called itself the Thunderers, because it had the same ideology as the old THunderers. The new Thunderers did have a few differences, however. They did not believe in judicial organizations, meaning that they were going to get rid of the entire court system and make law a private matter negotiated between individuals. The enslavement of Crystals was ended, although slavery of other groups continued.

Monetary conflicts

STW allowed the Empire to place taxes on STW, but warned that if STW ever felt the taxes were too high, they would order their army to extract tolls from non-STW traders passing along the Empire's trade route with Baeba Swamp, which was entirely controlled by STW.

Preparation for war

By 3948, a woman named Wanīka became very powerful in STW.[5] She was 3/4 crystal, but had converted to Thunder. She was the chief of STW Base 7, which was based in Lypelpyp, displacing a man named Endofi. She was very young, having barely graduated the eighth grade when she became chief. But Wanīka had grown powerful enough to gain the president's approval to act on behalf of (and against the will of) other Bases. The situation was very similar to Afunyū's authority over the president of Pipaippis in 1950s Subumpam, except that Wanīka was supplanting the president of her own organization rather than the government. Wanīka spent much of her time promoting pacifism in Nama and Dreamland, hoping those two empires would become so pacified that Wanīka herself could personally rule over them. She focused mostly on Nama, even though a lot of other empires were also focusing on Nama.

In August 3948, Nama decided its government was so pathetic that they stopped allowing Wanīka's missionaries to visit, since many desperately poor Namans seemed to believe the missionaries who claimed that Nama's ever-declining fortunes would finally improve if Nama became even more pacifistic and allowed Altotta's army to intrude even further inside them. Nearly all of Altotta's huge territory had been taken from Nama in a series of wars spanning more than 1400 years, and yet Altotta still insisted they needed more land. Soon the missionaries moved on from Nama to Paba, although by moving to Paba they escaped Wanīka's control and were no longer directly working for her interests.

Also in August 3948, the proto-Moonshine people (PMS) seceded from Lobexon and began marching t northward through Naman territory in search of a safe place to live. They refused to make any alliances with any outside powers, although they happily accepted help from allies such as Nama.

War with Paba

With Wanīka in control, STW launched a third war against Paba, intending to bring back slaves to work at STW. Many of the people who had been kicked out of STW had moved to Paba to find a place where they could again feel powerful, and many of these had created their own micro-nations in Paba, where Paba's government was too weak to enforce its laws, and soldiers were loyal to their home cities rather than to Paba. By this time, however, Paba was so foreign that many STWers had never even heard of it.

The Thunder imperial army refused to participate in this war, but the shock of learning that a new war had been declared with no imperial approval, and the realization that any retaliation from Paba would surely hit the Empire instead of STW, threw the imperial war council into a panic. The Empire knew that STW's Scope army was too small to cause much damage even to Dreamland, and that STW could not seriously expect to win three simultaneous wars against Dreamland, Laba, and Paba. They expected that STW's strategy would likely rely on forcing the Thunder Empire into the war by murdering innocent people in Paba and blaming the Thunderers.

War with Laba

The king of Laba, Adabawa, was attempting to build a coalition of nations on Rilola to fight back against Altotta and the rapidly growing STW. (Although Laba contained hundreds of nations, some hostile to their neighbors, there was a "king" in the sense that all contact between Laba and the rest of the world was controlled by the nation that dominated the northern coastline, and that nation identified itself simply as Laba when dealing with diplomats from the mainland. Lohi was the name of a coalition of dissenters in Laba, but they had no power because they had no navy.)

Rise of feminist parties

Two new political parties had challenged the Thunderers in recent years: Moonshine and the Fairies. The Moonshines were a branch of the Crystals that stressed pacifism and the supreme authority of women over men. The Fairies also placed women in control of men but said that with females in power, the military would only fight wars that were absolutely necessary, and that there was no need to explicitly commit to pacifism.

Treaty with Lohi

Lohi signed a pact with STW and the Thunder Empire promising to fight a humanitarian war against Laba, and renouncing all claims to the mainland. Hearing this, some conservative-leaning Thunderers called for war against Lohi, saying that if Lohi was a true ally they would send their soldiers to destroy all of Nama and then give it to the Thunder Empire so that the Thunderers would be able to win the war without suffering any casualties. Soon the Thunderers began to talk of a new war against the Sparks, a group of Thunder supporters based in rural Nama.

The Thunder military generals promoted their plans for conquest by explaining that , by attacking their own allies, they would have the element of surprise and would win an easy victory, particularly given that their allies were poorly equipped for war. Only once their allies had been vanquished, the Thunderers promised, would they pursue a war against their enemies. They wanted to destroy their allies so that, if they were able to win the wider war, the victory would be theirs alone.

Wars against the pacifists

Meanwhile the Thunderers also began talking of a new war against the various organizations of pacifists within their territory, as well as in foreign empires such as Moonshine. Moonshine was a feministic empire that had been founded only a few years earlier by refugees from the Crystals, and the Thunder leaders figured they could score victories against the women in Moonshine with one wing of their army while invading Laba, Lohi, and Nama with the other. Since Moonshine was pacifistic, the Thunderers figured the women would refuse to fight back against their army, and the Thunderers could build military bases in Moonshine if they lost the war against Laba.

Adabawa reacts

STW relied on the Thunder Empire for support, and so STW and the Empire had the same foreign policy. Thus Adabawa figured that the only way to destroy STW was to destroy the Empire. So STW's symbolic war against Laba became real, although it was being fought mostly in Baeba Swamp for the time being, with a second front opening in Paba. In both of these territories, Lenians were the ones fighting for Adabawa; Adabawa's own people did very little fighting because they lived on the islands of Laba. In fact, Adabawa was training his soldiers to launch a war against the Lenians in Baeba Swamp once the Lenians had eliminated Adabawa's other enemies.

Adabawa had kidnapped a woman named Maninapa from the infant nation of Moonshine. Moonshine's political philosophy was pacifism, and they often sent their people into battle zones without any weapons or armor in the hopes that they could help heal the wounds of soldiers on both sides of the war. Adabawa kept Maninapa as a political prisoner for a short time, but then explained to Maninapa that her new job was to go back to her homeland and pretend to have converted to a pro-Adabawa orientation, and to repudiate pacifism. He warned that if Maninapa was not successful in convincing Moonshine to support Adabawa, Adabawa would simply invade Moonshine and force them to surrender.

Adabawa captured most of the fake pacifists that Wanīka had sent to Nama and had moved to Paba. From them he learned military secrets, and vowed to make an alliance with Altotta, and then invade and crush Paba before Altotta could. (He was willing to offer them much of Nama however.)

Feminist War Council debates

However, in 3952, Altotta's Feminist War Council rejected Adabawa and shut their foreign diplomacy program with Laba entirely. They had held a debate in central Nama between Adabawa and Maninapa, and Maninapa won the debate. Thus Altotta became more pacifistic, because the only alternative presented to them was to make an alliance with Laba. Other nations respected Altotta now and stopped their wars. Thus it was now Laba that was isolated.

Surrender of Baeba

However, Adabawa still had the comfort of knowing that if Wanīka attacked Nama or Paba, they would submit to Laba instead of STW. Then, the Feminist War Council ceded Adabawa the imperial capital, Baeba Swamp, along with all other territories whose populations were primarily non-Lenian. They hoped to cut their losses by limiting deaths in the war only to dark-skinned tribes for as long as possible, in the hopes that once Adabawa had killed all of the dark-skinned tribes he would be willing to compromise with the Lenians and sign a treaty ending the war.

When Baeba Swamp heard of the women's war plan they seceded, leaving the rump Empire without a capital city. Because STW did not object to the betrayal of Baeba, Baeba's Crystals cut all contact with STW and warned that they might refuse STW members asylum in Baeba if the war were to turn around.

The Thunderers then declared war on Baeba Swamp and all of the territories that STW had already declared war against. They planned to occupy Paba so they could use the Pabaps as pawns to propel them to power.

Adabawa declares victory

But in 3953, Adabawa defeated the Empire, the first time in over 2000 years a Laban army had won a war in Rilola. However, Adabawa did not have the manpower to actually occupy the eastern areas, so instead the Thunderers abdicated power in favor of the Anchor (Loporomo) party, thus creating the First Anchor Empire, often called Loporomo I. They maintained their native languages, chiefly Meromo.

Anchor rule

Baywatch era

STW's leaders panicked when they realized they had lost a major against a power who had chosen to make STW their prime target.

In 3977, Dreamland's Dolphin Riders declared war on Adabawa and his reigning Wild party, and claimed the war was ideological even though their parties' ideologies were very similar. Adabawa quickly abandoned his occupation of the Anchor Empire in order to hold Dreamland, and handed full control of the Anchor Empire to the rival Baywatch party.

Growth despite hostility

The Baywatchers opposed STW. However, life under the Baywatchers drove STW and the Empire to mend their ties, and STW's schools actually expanded as the imperial schools began to shut down. STW's army prioritized the protection of the children in their schools and orphanages, and stopped their quest for ever more slaves. As major Thunder cities depopulated, small towns with STW bases grew. For example, Lypelpyp, home to the world's first STW base, became the largest city in the western half of the Empire.

In some towns, STW enrolled a majority of the town's population and began to swallow up independent high-skilled workers such as doctors who had traditionally resisted incorporation when the Empire had been free. Because STW's stores punished non-members with higher prices, even a rich man could become poor if he refused to join STW. However, STW's chiefs typically rejected criminals and other people they felt too unreliable to award full membership to; these people instead became slaves.

STW was no longer able to lead raids of stores owned by Dreamer immigrants because the Baywatch army now protected these stores. However, few subjects of the Empire were interested in buying Dreamers' merchandise any longer; only the most desperate customers were ever seen shopping there. Soon, most Dreamer stores rebranded themselves as military supply stores and sold mostly to other Dreamers. But they looked for ways to portray themselves as superior to STW, and focused on customer service since STW had long been notorious for their abusive employees.

Decline in profits

As STW enrolled greater and greater shares of the Anchor Empire's population, their profits began to decline. Their traditional business model had maximized profit by relying on slave labor for production and forcing non-members to pay high prices in stores, but in towns where STW enrolled a majority of the population, there were few customers left to cheat.

Likewise, the hostile Baywatch occupiers made trade difficult, and even as acquisition costs rose, STW had to lower the prices of many profitable goods because most customers could no longer afford luxury items since the Empire's economy had degenerated. However, this problem also affected non-STW stores, and many independent stores simply shut down. Thus, STW's share of the Empire's retail market increased even as its profits fell.

STW maintained its trade with Baeba Swamp, but because the Baywatchers now controlled the road and river traffic, such trade was no longer profitable, and STW adapted by selling mostly products of local origin and focusing on labor-intensive products such as furniture and prepared foods. Many restaurants which had been open for more than forty years closed as they could no longer differentiate themselves from their competitors and had never been profitable.

STW's currency, the asala, had been rapidly depreciating even when STW had been making ever-increasing profits because they minted new coins with little regard for the interests of current holders. Since STW was its own bank, they knew the total amount of circulating currency at each time, and increased their laborers' wages to keep pace. Inflation had averaged about 3.8% per year between STW's first day of business in 3915 and the Anchor Treaty in 3958. By 3977, the value of each coin had fallen to 1/7th its original value because the total circulating currency had increased sevenfold. Thus STW offered to exchange currency at a 7:1 ratio, but still denied non-members the ability to purchase asala because they felt that savvy traders might be able to turn a profit.

Persistence of schools

Interest in education declined under Baywatch occupation, as citizens believed that the Baywatchers would not hire the locals for high-paying jobs regardless of their education level. Thus, imperial schools began to degrade. But STW maintained its insistence that all STW members must first complete eight grades of school, and therefore in many towns, STW became the only school still open. This led STW's working language, Khulls, to also become the working language of the Anchor Empire, and therefore, the Baywatchers' attempt to teach their subjects to all speak Baywatch was a failure. However, in areas where the Baywatch occupiers were very weak, STW's membership increased only slightly, and therefore cities like Paba and Săla continued to speak their local languages (which were only distantly related to the Oyster language).

Leaper era

In 4107, the Dolphin Riders won control of most of Dreamland and renamed themselves to the Gold party. The Dolphin Riders were too weak to control the Anchor Empire in addition, so the Baywatchers continued to rule there as well as retaining the northeast corner of Dreamland. However, the Baywatchers' occupation force had been greatly weakened by their loss in the war against the Riders, and they were forced to locate their capital in the extreme northwest of the Anchor Empire.

In 4108, AlphaLeap declared the Baywatchers absent and moved the capital of the empire to the southern city of Săla, in western Paba. AlphaLeap's economic model closely imitated STW's, and STW's currency's value began to decline. But AlphaLeap was not politically hostile, and therefore STW continued to thrive in areas where they maintained control of trade and skilled labor.

Play era

Players seize power

In 4127, the extremist Play party overthrew AlphaLeap. They opposed child labor and all luxury products, and quickly closed all STW trade routes in areas they controlled. They banned their members from joining STW, which meant that STW members could not participate in the Play government or receive benefits that the Players distributed to their members. Secret STW membership was not feasible because STW required its members to perform military and governmental duties that could not be done without violating the Play party's own membership requirements.

Both STW and the Players stood for children's rights, reserved political power for women, and forced men to dedicate their lives to the military. Like STW, the Players typically had large families and upheld childbirth as the best gift a woman could give. However, unlike STW, the Players completely prohibited child labor, and said that any economic misfortunes which came to pass would be well worth it in order to preserve a happy childhood for their members.

The Players' capital was the southern city of Săla, where STW had earlier been weakened by AlphaLeap's rule, but once the Play army had conquered Dreamland, townspeople in areas where STW was strong began to support the Players as well.

The Play party believed that child labor was cruel even if the children were paid for it. They told STW that their children's work would be futile because the Play party would ensure that Player children who did no work would always live in better conditions than STW children who worked hard every day. They promised that they would not close STW, but they blocked all trade routes by land and sea, and therefore restricted STW members to buying goods only from each other. Furthermore, Players considered most of STW's merchandise to be luxury items, and therefore prohibited Players from buying those items at all. The Players allowed their members to destroy such illegal items.

Without its customer base, STW's currency became worthless. Early generations of child laborers in STW had been richer than typical non-STW adults, but when the Players shut off their access to the wider economy, children in STW realized that they were little more than slaves. Play children sometimes spent their day gathered outside STW's workplaces, mocking the STW children who slaved away for hours every day to earn the right to sleep in the crowded orphanage buildings that now housed both children and adults. STW's soldiers remained close by each base now, worried that if they ever left, the Player children would get tired of teasing STW and start throwing rocks at the children.

STWers defect

Some STW members began to desert STW in order to join the Play party, saying that STW had never been intended to thrive on its own. However, the Players soon ran into severe economic problems as well. They believed that they could run an economy in which all children would be free to play all day, all men would be bound to the military, and all women would live in cities working mostly in child care. The men were required to procure their own food, and much of the Empire's farmland was turned over to military control. But civilian agriculture was outlawed, and all other industries were shut down. The Players expected that they could feed themselves by fishing the sea and collecting berries and other fruits in the open; they did not consider collection of ready-to-eat foods to be work, and indeed, the Players soon burned their farms in the hopes that wild plants would soon grow in the soil.

Players' economic problems

To the surprise of their enemies, the Players indeed managed to feed themselves, but only because their child population was doing all of the work. Since the women running the government required all other women to confine themselves to childcare jobs, and had refused to respond to the emerging famine, the burden of acquiring food fell mostly on the child population. Player children spent their days at sea, struggling to row boats built for adults, catching fish with spears so that they could go home each night and feed parents who gave nothing back except a place to sleep. After a hard day's work, the children were often robbed by trespassing adults as they walked up the beach to the fish stores where they intended to sell their food, and because the entire Play police force had been sent north to merge with the army, the children were forced to face off these men on their own. Inside the stores, angry customers spit on and occasionally even hit the children whenever they felt they weren't getting their fair share of fish. Unlike STW's restaurants, the Play stores had no adult employees at all, so the children had to rely on customers to protect them from other customers.

Many children ran away from their parents and lived in crevices exposed to the elements. Rogue adults soon learned of this and began to prey on them even there. Soon, vengeful pirates from AlphaLeap appeared offshore and shot children trying to fish, forcing them to dodge arrows even as they struggled to steer their oversized boats.

When STW realized how unfair life was for the Player children, they yearned for the past era of cooperation when they had run orphanages in Paba, but the Play army was too powerful, and the Players in general were extremely stubborn people who trusted only each other. Some STW members connected with the women in charge of the Play government and showed them how, despite their promise to abolish child labor, Player children were now the most abused in the world, and worked harder than STW children ever had. The Player women agreed with STW's diplomats about this, but the Play government was so rigid that three reforms to alleviate the children's burdens all failed to pass the Play Parliament. When some Player women pled for access to the coast to protect their children, the other Player women created a new female police force that ignored the troubles on the beach but dutifully patrolled the inland areas to prevent women from violating the law banning all adults from the coast.

Player rebellions

The Play party soon suffered rebellions. The Flower Bees were an army consisting of 50,000 runaways who seized farmland and then massacred their own parents. They ruled for two years but met their end when they attempted to invade the territory of a traditional adult male army, the Raspara. At its peak, the Bees' territory, called the Hive, spanned four counties.[6]

The Pearls took power just east of the Bees, and like the Bees, they consisted mostly of children. However, they had some adults, and these adults were the ones in charge. Even so, the Raspara attacked them almost immediately and won quickly. Conquering the Pearls put the Raspara within striking distance of the Players' capital city of Săla.

Around 4140, the Raspara overthrew the Players.

Decline

STW's rise to power had depended on its presence in a sympathetic host empire.

In 4149, the Tinks overthrew the Raspara. A few months later, the Crystals overthrew the Tinks, but the Tinks soon took power back again. The Tinks disliked STW but supported its right to exist.

However, the Tinks soon realized that they only had control of their capital city and the roads leading into it, and had no feasible claim to the wider Empire. For STW, this meant that trade was no longer safe, and that their private military would need to protect STW's schools and stores. This made trade unprofitable, and STW's private currency collapsed to the point that its laborers could only afford to buy things from within STW. Their child laborers had once been richer than typical non-STW adults, but now they were little more than slaves.

Children in combat

For more than 200 years, STW had been known around the world as a school where children of any age could earn wages fit for adults by working hard and studying hard, served by a private army to protect their interests at home and abroad. But as hostile armies closed in, their child laborers could no longer sell merchandise or perform unskilled labor for the common people around them, and STW began to draft young children into their army to help fight the war. STW promised to always protect child soldiers by surrounding them with adult soldiers, and tried to keep families together so that fathers would be protecting their own children as they fought. However, this soon became untenable and STW fielded armies consisting entirely of children as they lost more and more battles against their enemies. These child soldiers fared even worse than previous armies such as the Flower Bees had; although they were able to slow the progress of advancing armies, none of STW's child armies ever won a battle, even with immense numerical superiority.

Nontraditional warfare

Knowing their child soldiers could never achieve any significant victories, STW began work in chemical warfare and the spread of plagues.

STW's plagues

In 4190, an STW chief named Joja sent a troop of small children into the Matrix nation, Tata, to help cure some of the diseases that STW had recently spread through Tata. She was hoping the kids would help soften the hearts of the Matrixes so they would agree to rejoin Anzan. She promised the Matrixes superpower status if they surrendered, and pushed the Swamp Kids to launch a second war against the Matrixes even though the Matrixes had just slaughtered over 30,000 Swamp Kids in a war where the Swamp Kids had killed only a few dozen Matrixes.

STW was facing severe financial stress, so they demanded that the Matrixes pay the kids money for their efforts at curing plagues. The Swampies were also facing severe stress, but they still sent a small army into Tata to follow and protect the STW children. The Matrixes, with the help of trained firebirds, immediately captured both armies and added them to their hundreds of thousands of slaves. STW offered to let the Matrixes keep the kids as slaves but demanded large amounts of money from the Matrixes as compensation. When the Matrixes refused, they sent more children into Tata to free the first troop, and demanded an even larger compensation for that.

Most independent nations declared war on STW now, saying the Matrixes had the moral high ground. The Raspara led organized attacks on STW's schools, killing the children they saw as the cause of the war. STW was thus forced to station security guards at its schools even though it meant fewer adults would be free to run the plantations. Expecting to lose the war, STW signed a pact with the Raspara saying that when STW finally ran out of child soldiers, the Raspara people could take all their weapons and enslave them, as they still preferred the Raspara people to the Matrixes even after the attacks on their schools and hospitals.

Contact with ZDE

Just as STW had turned to child soldiers when they ran out of adult soldiers, they also turned to smaller children when they ran out of bigger ones. As the war in Tata was progressing, a troop of very young STW children assigned to hold Paba found themselves trapped between a front of slave-seeking Raspara soldiers marching from the north and the small army of ZDE invading from the south. The children obeyed their orders to fight both armies simultaneously, but were quickly overwhelmed as the two armies met up and split the spoils between them.

ZDE was delighted when they discovered who they were fighting, as ZDE was one of the weakest sovereign nations in the world and their home territory was an icecap more than a thousand miles north of the war's epicenter. ZDE decided to focus entirely on child abduction and avoid traditional combat, and they promised the kids that although they would all be slaves, they would be safe from harm and thus better off than they had been in STW. By contrast, the Raspara considered STW's child soldiers no different than their traditional enemies, and killed anyone they felt too delicate to enslave.

By turning child soldiers into slaves, ZDE now also claimed the moral high ground, and began releasing pro-ZDE propaganda intending to get STW kids to desert their positions and join ZDE. None ever came, but some other armies in the area became sympathetic to ZDE, and ZDE had a clear path to abduct children whenever they could find them. STW responded by sending even more armies of children against ZDE, and then encouraged the children by telling them that it was a fair fight.

Raspara secession

Amidst all this, an alliance of adult male STW soldiers rebelled against STW and declared themselves to be Raspara. They thus joined the Raspara's war against STW and focused their attacks on the children who were serving beside them in STW's army.

Formation of TCT

When news of such incidents spread to STW's remaining students, a group of about 500 orphans at Base 7 revolted and declared themselves an independent nation with no army, land, or adult leadership. They took the name TCT, and soon absorbed another group of children called STS.

Although STW allowed its chiefs to expel children, they had long prided themselves on not doing so, and the children still retained the right to spend money since STW's currency was still valuable within STW. The chief of Base 7 obeyed the children's request to forsake their obligations, move to a tropical paradise at 15°N, and order their slaves to build them a resort called Šāaā ("Comfort City") to live in, even though the labor spent in doing so weakened STW even further. This resort was in Kxesh.

After the orphans voted to forsake their duties by defecting from STW, the leaders held a conference to find a new role for STW in their changing world. STW admitted that they could no longer be a child-focused organization, and although they retained the formal structure of schools and stores that they had created upon their founding in 3915, they freed their remaining children, discouraged parents from enrolling new children, and apologized to lifelong STW members who were eager to raise their children to positions similar to their own. They shut down their orphanage operations; although they still offered to protect orphans, they warned them that the life of an orphan in STW would be no better than the life of a slave, and STW encouraged childless families of all political parties to adopt their orphans.

By expelling its child population, STW shrank from about 36000 members to just 6000, most of whom were adult men. Most women left STW when the children did, as the men in STW's army preferred to control their own affairs.

Finally, STW told their remaining members that their organization had become an army. They stated that the only difference between STW and any other nation was that STW did not have a contiguous territory to rule over. However, like many other armies, they planned to remedy this by seizing control of Baeba Swamp. Thus , they began closing bases far from Baeba.

Soon after their apology, STW leaders around Baeba began collecting orphans and sending them to plantations in STW-held territory. The Baebans soon learned that STW had not changed their philosophy; they had merely resolved to limit their slave operations to children from hostile tribes.

Developments in Tata

Meanwhile, the war in Tata continued, but STW stopped demanding monetary compensation for everything they did. When the Raspara people heard this, they immediately switched sides and began an invasion of Tata. Quickly STW advanced into Tata with their allies at their side and began winning battles. They began to close in on Xema, the world's coldest nation, which was preparing for a massive southward invasion of the entire rest of the world after the other countries were weakened by war.

Creamland did not switch sides, however, so in December 4190 the STW-Raspara coalition conquered Tata and then began to invade Creamland. They defeated Creamland within weeks. After the resistance died down, STW decided to enslave the Rasparas even though they had helped STW win the war. Then, STW promised that it would soon enslave the rest of the world, except for the Creamlandic state of Thaoa. Anzan's Matrixes were assigned to the Swamp Kids, however, and STW did not expect to control the other slaves directly. Some STW members now also revived their demand for monetary compensation, saying that STW had lost many children fighting the war and thus deserved to finish the war in a better financial state than it had had when it began.

In the Treaty of Mosēsē, the Raspara commanders surrendered to STW and promised to pay the reparations that STW had been demanding at the beginning of the war. Because the Raspara army had only attacked children, they repaid their debt by consigning their soldiers to work as slaves for the remaining STW children. The Raspara soldiers then fled with these children to slave camps in the forests of Rasparia.

Rule from Baeba

In 4191, the Swamp Kids surrendered the entirety of the Anchor Empire and evacuated as much of their population as they could reach. They had realized that occupying such a large empire was impossible, but that they might be able to sacrifice it all and then achieve their original goal, the conquest of Baeba Swamp.

Despite their embarrassing military history, the Swamp Kids quickly established a foothold in Baeba Swamp, and also conquered areas of Nama through which they had passed along the way. They named their new territory the Little Country (TLC), claiming that although they still controlled vast areas of wilderness in Nama, their army would henceforth focus on protecting the small area that they had conquered within Baeba Swamp.

The Swamp Kids abandoned democracy and installed a new king named the Golden Sun (Xideri) on their throne. Because their original constitution had always allowed for the creation of monarchies in troublesome areas, they considered their new system to be a continuation of their democracy, and stated that the whole of their territory was troublesome and that democracy would return if they were ever able to secure a lasting peace and a piece of land sufficient for a growing population. Their parliament remained in session, and some members claimed that the Parliament was still allowed to overrule the king, but a majority of the representatives promised early on to obey the king for the foreseeable future.

Establishment of slavery

The Swamp Kids soon built slave plantations in Baeba, and most of their slaves were Lenian people who had been hoping to become allies of the Swamp Kids. Yet, the Swamp Kids remained hostile to their old enemies even as they alienated their potential new allies, and they reminded their generals that their nation would likely remain small for many generations.

Developments in the Anchor Empire

With the Swamp Kids mostly out of Anchor territory, the Raspara no longer had a weaker army to prey on, and the Raspara began to desert the Anchor Empire as well. Within months, some of the Raspara's other enemies followed them into Baeba to prevent them from achieving a stronghold there. Thus, the warring armies of the Anchor Empire steadily shifted towards Baeba, and the people moving were disproportionately adult male soldiers. However, some armies stayed behind as they figured that they had little to gain by hiking thousands of miles only to enter the world's deadliest war. One army that refused to move was a wing of the Zeniths known as Asala.

Census of 4192

A census in 4192[7] showed that over 96% of the Little Country's population consisted of enslaved Dolls and allies, seemingly too timid to revolt or even run away despite massive numerical superiority. Most of the rest consisted of the Swamp Kids who now owned them. The neutral population had been almost entirely killed or driven out.

Soapy-Swampy relations

Despite the generous amounts of power the Swamp Kids had granted their king, the king soon defected from the Swamp Kids to the rival Soap Bubbles, a very weak party which had been confined to living within Crystal territory for most of its history and whose members had been captured in large numbers by the slave-seeking Matrixes. The Swampies were puzzled at their king's decision to convert from a strong army to a weak one, but some Swampy generals pointed out that the Swamp Kids had only recently begun winning battles and that their success might not last.

The Two Suns

The Golden Sun was the king of The Little Country in the year 4193. However, due to his affiliation with STW, he was still subject to orders from Lanīs, the president of STW. The Sun's position as king of TLC gave him no power over STW; Lanīs could rein in the Sun at any time to tell him to stop behaving badly.

The Sun's every day name was Xideri; the Sun was merely a byname, and the Golden Sun was a modified name he chose to frame himself as an equal, rather than a superior, to his ally the Red Sun. Both names referred to their hair color, as Baeba Swamp was populated mostly by dark-skinned people with black hair, and blonde hair stood out starkly. Even among the invading Swamp Kids, most people had black hair, although lighter colors were not uncommon since the Swamp Kids had arisen as a mix of many tribes. Meanwhile, red hair was even rarer, and people with red hair were often simply remembered as though that were the only interesting feature about them.

The two Suns had recently converted from the Swamp Kids to the Soap Bubbles, and were also members of STW. In June 4193, the Golden Sun organized a program to convert the Swamp Kids who clung to their old ways to the Soap party. Many Soap Bubbles had been living near Baeba for hundreds of years, but the Suns knew that, all in all, the Swamp Kids were stronger than the Soap Bubbles, and that by converting to the weaker party they were putting themselves at risk of a military coup.

Though the Golden Sun opposed the Crystals, he had ratified many Crystal policies in his early days as king. However, he backtracked within months and cancelled many of these actions. Some Soap Bubbles began to adopt ideas from their enemy, the Swamp Kids; this came as a surprise to the Swamp Kids themselves, and the Crystals realized they were losing their closest ally.

The Sun's power struggles

The Sun often imposed rules which pleased him rather than those he felt were right. He abused his wife, a slave from Baeba Swamp, and absorbed power from his friends, yet he allowed the Red Sun to share the power of the throne and use it for evil purposes. The Sun seldom practiced what he preached, in terms of fundamentalism and rules for conduct. Despite all this, he was well respected by many as a protector, and his outreach efforts helped spread Bubblism rapidly.

Sunspot attacks

But the Red Sun, rather than convert the Swamp Kids, destroyed their forces in a series of battles. These soldiers had carried weapons produced by the Golden Sun's laborers. An excellent militarist, the Red Sun had created the Sunspots, an army of assassins, from power granted to him by the Golden Sun. The Sunspots were very powerful and could kill nearly everyone in the country, although they were weakened by the fact that many of their enemies had strong weapons as well. However, the Sunspots were much smaller than the official royal army. The Red Sun frequently sent his private army out to kill members of groups he was opposed to, such as the Swampies and the Crystals.

Earlier, the Golden Sun had politely convinced the Crystals to surrender their arms to him, promising he would not force them to convert to the Soap party. The Crystals surrendered their weapons as prompted, and the Red Sun then sent out the Sunspots after the Crystals, nearly wiping them out. He also paid close attention to make sure there were no new groups arising which could tear apart the Little Country. The Golden Sun refused to protect the Crystals from the Sunspots, and the Crystals began to turn against both Suns, though they still considered the Red Sun their primary enemy.

Although what remained of the Crystals did try to rise up and hurt the Red Sun, their force was now so weak that he could easily suppress their attacks. The Sun's ex-wife, Right Arm (), originally supported the Crystals so zealously that she opened up the female-led nation of Hōmoya to refugees from the Swampies and the Bubbles. Right Arm was officially a slave working for a Baeban named Tapassi; yet she had been the first female ruler in many years during the chaotic time when there was no steady government. She had been married to the Sun for two years before he rejected her.

But later she began to rethink her philosophy and abandoned Hōmoya. She came to support the Bubbles, although she still pressed for reforms in the Little Country, and asked the Sun to stop abusing his wife and to not let the Red Sun keep assassinating his enemies. Though the Sun really did agree with her, he was too perverse to actually do what she said.

Right Arm chose not to send her army to assassinate the Sun. The Swamp Kids, however, now turned over all their weapons to the Crystals, with the request that they use them against the Red Sun. Even though Right Arm was a Bubble, the Swamp Kids considered her to be loyal to the Crystals, and hoped that by supporting the Crystals they could win her favor as well.

Star stayed quiet throughout most of this ordeal; she believed that the kingdom was disintegrating and she withdrew from most politics. The Sun's wife[8] then suddenly broke from his strict control, and joined the local Crystal army just after the Red Sun had threatened to finish them off.

She was not doing this as a form of honorable suicide or euthanasia, but rather because she was, in reality, a Crystal. She achieved martyrdom when the Red Sun carried out his threat, leaving only four Crystal survivors within the Little Country.

The Golden Sun was so upset over the death of his wife that he finally realized that it was evil to let the Red Sun kill all these people — Crystal, Swampy, or otherwise, even if he did not agree with their ways. Even though the Sun was opposed to both the Crystals and the Swampies, and believed that war should be waged against the unfaithful, he believed that faith and belief were different, and that targeting people for their superficial beliefs was thus immoral.[9] He even asked the leader of the new Crystal group, Hapulsa, to forgive him. Then he killed the Red Sun.

The Sun remained on his throne with no wife for several months. He contacted the surviving Crystals and convinced them to compromise and unite with the Bubbles. The Bubbles remained in power, and weapons were still stockpiled. But the Sun was much more careful about waging war without a good knowledge of what he was doing.

Nevertheless, the Sun soon expanded his army, built more armories, and took over where the Red Sun had left off in assassinating Crystals. He was often painted as twice as perverse, twice as quick-tempered, and twice the tyrant that the Red Sun had been. Right Arm rode in from the ruined state of Hōmoya and gave the Sun a formal rebuke, and asked him to reform his ways. She asked him to lend her money to rebuild Hōmoya so that she could merge Hōmoya into the Little Country and join the Empire.[10] The Sun agreed, even though he privately conceded that he preferred the chaotic, ruined Hōmoya to what he expected it would soon become.

The Sun soon married a Crystal woman named Passuppîpi, a moderately rich girl who had tried and failed to keep out of the country's affairs. His marriage was seemingly an attempt to resurrect Pupawee in another form.

The Sun allowed Passuppîpi a lot more rights than he had Pupawee, but he abused her even more than he had Pupawee. The Sun was plunging into despair, although he did not realize it. Passuppîpi knew that he had to resign as king and allow someone else to take over. Within months, the Sun indeed resigned, but he did not relinquish all his power. Furthermore, he set up no new king in his place, and soon tried to retake the throne. He thus reigned as pseudo-king for a short time, before relinquishing this, too.

Suddenly, Passuppîpi discovered that he had been working on a secret plan to defeat Xema (ZDE) for almost two years, but had been so absorbed by it that it took over his life. She found inscribed in many sheets of paper (tree bark was used as paper in Baeba) pertaining to the plans phrases and drawings which had not been uncovered before.

Passuppîpi was so shocked by this discovery that she withdrew from the world whenever she could for the next few days. Then she decided to get a mallet and hit the Sun on the head, then explain that he had gone insane. But the Sun was a very strong man, and he always wore armor even at home in his castle. If she hit him on the head with a mallet, it would bounce off harmlessly. But Passuppîpi was running out of time. He was doing more evil every day, it seemed, although he was doing some good things; however, he was on a downward spiral.

Passuppîpi decided the best way to hurt the king was to get him to take off his suits of armor. Passuppîpi hoped to be able to search the weapons closet for the right chemical which would cause the armor to sting Pinuha, so that he would take off the armor. But the Sun had never told her where the weapon closet was.

Although Passuppîpi could have searched it out by brute force, she knew that some of the rooms in the castle were blocked with a painful trap involving rotating one's shoulders over their ankles. But she discovered a clue: the correct room was the room labeled "Red Rainbow". When she was alone, Passuppîpi began searching for a door labeled "Red Rainbow".

To her surprise, the chemicals were found right in front of her. She grabbed the armor, chemical, and antidote, and quickly left, figuring the Sun would soon know what was up. When the Sun arrived home, he was already furious. Passuppîpi had donned the armor, and she now splashed the Sun with the chemicals. Upon seeing how Passuppîpi had risked her life to do good, he surrendered to his wife, and took off the armor, not knowing what she wanted to do with him. She grabbed the mallet and swung it with such force that it went right through his skull. He was near death, but a Crystal-Moonshine medical team managed to revive him.

When his injuries healed, the Sun continued to attack the Crystals again. His wife began to believe her quest to tame her husband was impossible.

Fall of the Little Country

The Matrixes were almost powerless now. The Rasparas were even less powerful. Yet, in late 4194, a Matrix-STW-Moonshine coalition army swamped TLC and threw all of the opposing armies out of power. STW spared the lives of the Golden Sun and others in TLC who were members of STW, however, as STW had promised to always protect the lives of its members, even those who committed crimes against STW, so long as they were prevented from committing further massacres. STW's army simply returned the Sun to his original post at STW as though the Little Country had never existed, and he agreed to restore his earlier promise to always obey his boss, a woman named Lanīs (Joja).

Wars against the Dolls

In 4206, STW seceded from the Anchor Empire (which had renamed itself Rapala) and declared war on all people, even Zeniths, except for the Raspara. They refused to recognize the existence of Rapala and Baeba, saying that they both were just loose alliances of slavemasters who really each had their own countries. They still used the acronym STW, but began to increasingly refer to themselves as Lindasia as they sought to acquire a contiguous territory.

Most Raspara people were STW members now, which meant that their attempt to infiltrate STW had succeeded, and STW no longer consisted mostly of children ruled over by women. They helped STW improve its military by giving them leaked Slope military plans and weapons. They also had their own armies of slaves, which they donated to STW for free. STW's army was still smaller than most of their opponents', but they hoped they could make allies of neutral parties and new arrivals to the Swamp. With Raspara help, STW's army acquired over 115,000 Doll slaves.

By this time, the Swamp Kids had moved their army to Baeba Swamp, surrendering all of their claims to the vast eastern empire. Though the Swamp Kids had had an embarrassing military history, they were strong enough to reach Baeba and hold their own against the armies they met there. But the Raspara army soon pounced on them, and after the Raspara came several other armies. Thus Baeba Swamp became the epicenter of the world's deadliest war.

Creation of independent republics within Baeba

Baeba's ruling Rock party[11] donated parcels of land within Baeba Swamp to weak, landless parties in the hopes that an army with land of its own would not seek to invade neighboring lands. Three republics were founded in poor natural environments, called Tahifòka,[12]Tahalmana,[13] and Sahahămi.[14] These were given exclusively to the Doll tribes, who were mostly slaves, and who had previously never had a nation of their own. The various Doll groups were divided by political ideology, not tribal identity, but the Rocks referred to the groups as tribes in order to justify the creation of three nations rather than a single nation with three competing political parties.

The combined Doll population of the three new republics was only about 7,000; most Dolls remained in slavery, and could not move to the new republics. Baeba expected that even the free Dolls would immediately submit to their enemies, as they were poor soldiers and had in the past put up little resistance to capture by hostile armies, but they considered this preferable to having the Dolls scattered around other nations as a slave class.

War in Tahifòka

Immediately south of Tahalmana, the lowland district of Tahifòka had been assigned by Baeba's Rock party to a Doll party calling itself the Bottom, but the 1,400 Bottoms who were allowed entry quickly surrendered their nation to the Slopes. The Slopes had emerged from the Zenith, who had occupied much mountain territory. Thus, the Bottoms chose their name as a pun intending to show that the Slopes would help them connect with the Zenith. The new Slope-Bottom coalition aligned itself with STW and supported STW's new war against the Swamp Kids.

However, the Bottoms were unprepared for the abuse that the Slopes soon dealt to them. The Slopes had acquired many plagues from their previous battles, and they passed these plagues onto their slaves without providing them proper medical care. The Slopes told the Bottoms to replenish their population by having many children. It soon came to light that the plagues were spreading more quickly than usual because some Bottoms had sold their fellow Bottoms into sexual slavery, while others voluntarily became prostitutes. In both cases, the Bottoms did this despite knowing that the money the Slopes paid them could easily be taken away. When the knowledge spread that the Bottoms had cooperated in their own exploitation, the Bottoms lost the sympathy of the Swamp Kids and other potential allies.

Conquest of Tahifoka

The Swamp Kids had invaded Tahifoka after learning that the Bottoms had voluntarily submitted themselves to sexual slavery at the hands of the Slopes, and that despite their ongoing war with the Slopes, some Swamp Kids had joined in on the abuse. The Swampy leaders threatened to expel any party members who engaged in sexual contact with the Bottoms; though they felt no sympathy for the Bottoms, they considered it treasonous to cooperate with the Slopes in any way.

Within months, STW members also began moving to Tahifoka in order to abuse the Bottoms, and the Bottom leaders realized their people were under severe strain. Plagues swept through the Bottom population, while their abusers were largely unaffected. Soon, the Bottoms were only a slim majority. Many Swamp Kids then rebelled against their leaders, saying they had found the best way to live, but yet insisted that they were still Swamp Kids and that their leaders would soon join them in their new carefree lifestyle.

Swampies invade Tahifoka

As the Slopes, Swamp Kids, and STW members teamed up to abuse the Bottoms, the Bottom population began to decline. The Swamp Kids' leaders warned that they were about invade Tahifoka and would kill the entire population indiscriminately just to rid themselves of the problems of their members' behavior. They again reminded the Bottoms that, because the Bottoms had willingly sold themselves into a life of prostitution, they were undeserving of sympathy, and that they would likely begin their invasion by killing the Bottoms and only hitting the abusers once the victims were all dead.

When the other three groups learned this, they signed a three-way treaty promising to defend Tahifoka and the Bottoms against the invading Swamp Kids. Many of the breakaway Swamp Kids joined STW. When the Swampy army arrived, however, the soldiers again rebelled against their leaders and announced that they were intending to capture the Bottoms and put them into slavery. Thus, the tripartite coalition became a majority, and they realized that there were not enough Bottoms to go around. It was only at this point that the Bottoms attempted to flee their abusers, and even here, they were mostly unsuccessful, as the Slope army had control of the perimeter of Tahifoka, apart from the border with Tahalmana.

War in Tahalmana

When STW learned of the three new Doll-led republics, they drew up plans to invade Tahalmana (Taxalmana), which had been assigned to a league of Dolls who called themselves the Cupbearers. Of the 57,000 Cupbearers in Baeba, all but 2,000 were enslaved, and therefore only 2,000 Cupbearers were allowed to move to Tahalmana.

Tahalmana was in the northern extreme of Baeba Swamp, and had once been the scene of a major battle between Dreamland and Baeba.[15] Some Cupbearers were still bound to slavemasters of the Slope party and therefore, a troop of 882 Slope slavemasters moved into Tahalmana shortly after its founding. The Rocks had been expecting this, but still believed that this was preferable to seeing different leagues fight over the slaves.

STW considered the Swamp Kids and other armies unimportant and did not care whether the Swamp Kids were for or against them in their new war. They decided that the best way to conquer Tahalmana would be to convince the Cupbearers to support the overthrow of their Slope masters and the replacement of the standard Rapalan philosophy with STW's powerful version of Rasparism. They planned to raise a vast underclass of children in Tahalmana that would after about fifteen years come to outnumber the non-Doll adults and overthrow them. Then STW would occupy Tahalmana and kill off all of the teenage Cupbearers who had fought so hard to let them in.

STW members and slaves went on missions preaching pro-STW politics to the Dolls, and Baeba Swamp promised to defend STW in a war. However, STW's plan called for a delay of fifteen years before mobilizing their army, whereas the Swamp Kids swept into Tahalmana within months and quickly won the Cupbearers' surrender. STW realized that strategies that had served them well in the distant past were no longer valid.

The Cupbearers had surrendered to the Swamp Kids in the hopes that the Swamp Kids would enslave them but also protect them from the other armies. Instead, the Swamp Kids expelled the Cupbearers and declared Tahalmana to be a new republic for Swamp Kids only. Because Tahalmana was immediately north of Tahifoka, they also fortified their border in preparation for a war against the Slopes who had taken control of Tahifoka. After they built forts, they charged through Tahalmana towards STW's conventional army.

Most of STW's soldiers were from tribes physically similar to the Swamp Kids, and many STW members spoke Bābākiam, so both sides planted spies behind enemy lines. In the Battle of Tahalmana, STW's army defeated the Swamp Kids, blocked all roads leading to Tahalmana, and announced that they had realized their plan fifteen years early. However, though they had won the battle, they had lost many soldiers, and the survivors realized that conquering the other three Doll republics would likely be out of their reach. They signed a treaty with the Slopes who ruled the adjacent territory of Tahifoka stating that STW members could visit Tahifoka but would not be allowed to maintain a military presence there.

Conflict spreads

Slope reaction

In June 4206, the Slopes consolidated their control over Tahifoka. The Slopes asserted that they were the dominant partner of the three-way coalition, and that because Tahifoka was an independent republic, they were not subject to the laws of Baeba Swamp. They thus reduced the powers afforded to STW and the Swamp Kids, and stated that henceforth the Bottoms would be considered the property of the Slopes. The other two groups were still allowed to live in Tahifoka and to abuse slaves that they had purchased outright, but they were no longer given access to the communal slave pools that they had earlier helped set up.

At this point, the Bottoms began to fight back against the Slopes. They avoided violence, however, because they felt they were incapable of violence, and therefore they instead sent a swarm of parasitic worms after the Slopes, saying that although the worms would likely bite just as many Bottoms as Slopes, the Bottoms were accustomed to the pain whereas the Slopes were not. They also started wildfires, saying that although the fires would quickly spread out of control, the Bottoms were used to living exposed to the elements whereas the Slopes mostly lived in houses. Though the Bottoms never lifted a hand against their abusers, the resulting chaos allowed them a second chance to flee.

Swampies pull back

The Swampy leadership became explicitly anti-slavery now, and began to sympathize with the Bottoms that they had earlier rejected. Hearing this, the governors of Rapala renamed their entire nation Panu and stated that they were interested in organizing an anti-slavery coalition, with liberal amounts of power afforded to the Swamp Kids, to conquer STW and free all slaves in all nations. They created a new political party called the Clouds.

Matrixes move north

For some Bottoms, even nonviolent conflict was too frightening, so they fled into a cluster of Matrix plantations in the core of Baeba Swamp. They promised to work hard for the Matrixes so long as the Matrixes spared them from plagues. The Matrixes abducted the Bottoms and soon realized that, since the Bottoms were able to flee their Slope masters, the Slope army must have become weaker recently, and thus launched an invasion of Tahifòka. The Cupbearers, some of whom were still homeless after being forced out of Tahalmana, signed a treaty with the Matrix here, but rather than commit to a military alliance, they tried to calm the Matrixes down in order to prevent the Matrixes from harming the Slopes or their Bottom slaves. By this point, the Matrixes had become so confident of their invincibility that they simply slaughtered the Cupbearers who had come to them to make peace, and served them as the main course in a ceremonial meal.

The Matrixes and the Slopes were both legal parties in Baeba Swamp, and they both shared power in Baeba's coalition government, but since Tahifòka had been granted independence, the Matrix invasion was legal, and the Slopes could not order them to pull back. Nevertheless, they quickly signed a treaty with the Slopes to stop their war, and annexed the territory of Tahifòka back into Baeba Swamp proper. The Matrixes had a strong majority in Baeba's central government, so this new treaty decreased the power of the Slopes. However, the Slopes still had de facto control of much territory in the upper mountain regions from which they had derived their name. This territory was called Gatohăna and was near Tahalmana.

The Slopes launched an illegal war against the Bottoms now, claiming that the perpetrators were renegades from Gatohăna that the mainline Slopes could not control. The Bottoms, still officially allied to the Slopes, then fled uphill into Gatohăna, meeting their enemies' swords with their open arms.

Swamp Kids attack

Baeba's ruling Rock party (BAX) sponsored debates for all of the armies in Baeba, but the Swamp Kids refused to participate because they considered themselves too uneducated.

Meanwhile, the Swamp Kids pushed into the core of the swamp and slaughtered a troop of Cupbearers who had done nothing to harm them or even hold them back. The Swamp Kids again declared that they were against all sides and would as happily kill harmless Cupbearers as they would kill violent Matrixes or Slopes.[16] The Cupbearers admired the Swamp Kids' resilience and pleaded with them not to destroy Baeba Swamp. They believed that the Swamp Kids had the most incentive to protect their slaves, and that if it was their destiny to be slaves, they would prefer to be slaves for the Swamp Kids. Baeba's Rock party then assassinated the leader of the Cupbearers and blamed the attack on the Matrix. The Cupbearers captured the archer who had shot them, and physically dragged him to court, but the Baeban court told them that they would not punish the man because he was not a Matrix.

Third Rainbow Revolt

When the Matrixes realized that the Bottoms were running directly to their doom, they announced the Third Rainbow Revolt. They were referencing an event sixty years earlier in Tata where a mob of children murdered fourteen teachers who had attempted to assign them classwork, and ordered the government to replace them with teachers who would assign perfect grades even if the children skipped school. The Matrixes were the majority party in Baeba Swamp's coalition government, but they said that this was not good enough, and that they were about to murder their coalition partners so they could appoint their own.

They thus launched an illegal war against the Slopes. They promised to hurt the Slopes as much as the Slopes were hurting the Bottoms. The Matrixes had no sympathy for the Bottoms; they merely could not stand to see their potential slaves go to waste. However, Baeba's ruling Rock party had retained the power to overrule their parliament, and so even though the Matrixes had a clear majority in Baeba's central government, their new war triggered the Rocks to eject the Matrixes from Baeba's government and reassign their seats to other parties, chiefly the Slopes. Thus, the Slopes were the new majority in Baeba, and their illegal war against the Bottoms became legal.

Settlement of Ḳēḳ

The Matrixes consolidated their army into the district of Ḳēḳ. They brought with them many slaves belonging to the United Pacifist League (UPL; also known as the Blossoms),[17] and claimed that they were a fourth Doll republic with the Blossoms as their willing servants. (They had abducted the Blossoms from the republic of Sahahămi, but were unable to conquer Sahahămi.) The Matrixes had also abducted Cupbearers who had earlier attempted to submit to the Swamp Kids, and when the Cupbearers realized that they were now outnumbered by Matrixes, they attempted to escape Kēk and locate the Swamp Kids again.[18] Some UPL members defected to the Cupbearers, and soon most of the Dolls in Kēk considered themselves Cupbearers.

Even though Baeba Swamp had just ejected the Matrixes from its parliament, they decided to recognize Ḳēḳ as a new nation and not seek a new war. The Matrixes were still supportive of the Slopes' war against the Swamp Kids, and the Slopes did not want to see them move to the other side.

Settlement of Vutagû

The Cupbearers (HLP) fled to dangerous habitats in the center of the swamp, where predatory animals kept people out. They declared themselves to be yet another new republic, called Vutagû. Unlike the earlier republics, this one was founded by escaping slaves, and soon there were more than 50,000 Cupbearers living in tiny Vutagû. Baeba's ruling Slope party refused to recognize the new republic, as they felt it would encourage further slave revolts.

Despite their dire situation, the Cupbearers had brought many animals and plants which they hoped to establish in Vutagû. The Cupbearers had very few weapons with which to defend themselves; they didn't even have spears like the Slopes did. Thus, they could not kill most swamp animals, and they had to settle for a very restricted diet.

Since the Cupbearers were at this time a very poor people, they had few clothes and fewer weapons, and had to be ever alert for their predators. Soon, however, the Slopes decided to invade Vutagû and take their chances with the animals. They sent 2,000 heavily armed Slopes out to capture young Cupbearers, and warned that they would not stop until HLP promised to obey the laws of Baeba Swamp.

The Cupbearers refused, but they realized that they were unarmed and would not stand much of a chance in a battle because they derived most of their strength from their animals. So they fled yet again and attempted to create another new town in Baeba, far away from where they had been living before. Since Baeba was a large nation, the Cupbearers figured, there would be plenty of room for everybody. The Cupbearer troop headed slightly west and then north. The leaders of the expedition were deeply worried about the possibility that their people might revolt and kill them, and worried that they would end up being led back to their homeland, which was now being taken over by Slopes who were attempting to kill all of the animals that had afforded the Cupbearers protection from the Slopes.

But nevertheless, the 2,000 Slope soldiers caught and abducted the 50,000 unarmed Cupbearers. STW offered to help the Slopes oversee their newfound slave population, so long as the Slopes agreed to let STW members take back some of the Cupbearers to STW as well. The Slopes agreed. With the aid of HLP slave labor, Slope society grew rapidly. The STWers in Baeba, who quickly came to call themselves Slopes, provided the society with valuable technology and quickly accomplished in a few months what the Slopes had been trying to do for 70 years: kill the most dangerous animals in the Swamp, and replace them with more harmless ones.

Population expansion

Previously, the Slopes had been unsure of their grasp of power, and some Slopes had even sold themselves into slavery to other leagues to buy their younger relatives a safe journey out of Baeba and a new life in the wilderness, far from the war. But with STW on their side, the Slopes lost their fears, and declared that they would never be afraid of any outside armies, nor of slave revolts. They planned to breed throngs of Cupbearers and stated that even if the Cupbearers outnumbered their Slope masters by more than 100 to 1, the Slopes would always win any fight.

Tata project

STW supports the Raspara

STW used its power to pass a law legalizing Rasparism in all parts of Baeba Swamp. There was little the Dolls could do to protest this because they were so completely controlled by outsiders. They were just toys in the eyes of the Slopes. All non-Dolls were divided into neutral people (e.g. some Swamp Kids) or slave aggressors (Slopes). The Slopes interpreted the new pro-Rasparism law as making their slave system the cornerstone of their nation, so they began constructing barriers around Slope territory to keep slaves from running away from the grand champion abusers they predicted would soon emerge from the Slopes. They began to teach their slaves that they could prevent an explosion of abuse by being obedient to the Slopes. Thus, the most abusive slaveowners were smothered with extra slaves, to try to calm them down, but the Slopes seemed to grow even more abusive when faced with slaves attempting to love them than with slaves attempting to fight them. Baeba attempted to solve this problem by passing a law making it a crime to be an abused slave, hoping the slaves would learn to fight back, lest they be tortured at the hands of the Slopes for the rest of their lives. However, the law was soon extended to mean that even free people, if they were to lose a fight, would automatically be enslaved by their abusers. The government was forced to abandon its attempts to rein in the Slopes.

But the Slopes were again able to fool the governors and use their new freedoms to make themselves more powerful. They began building weapons and in late June they overthrew the government and killed most of the adult Doll population, leaving children unprotected and unable to defend themselves. They established a new government based on Rasparism, enslaved the entire child population and began sending missions into other provinces seeking more slaves to bring home to abuse.

The conversion of the Slopes to Rasparism enheartened STW, which had begun to doubt that their slavery system was truly the best way to run the nation. The Slopes signed a treaty with STW and began to preach to the other Slopes, hoping to gain more converts. The mainstream Slopes were not hostile to the Rasparas, but they did rule that Rasparas could no longer call themselves Slopes. Thus Baeba's Slopes renamed themselves Rasparas (LTU). The acronym was distinct from the earlier Raspara acronym (PEG) because the original PEG Rasparas had disbanded and these new Rasparas were actually a different party that chose to reuse the name.

STW and the Rasparas began an experiment with the many slave armies they had captured to see which of the many possible setups was the most economical. They captured many thousands of slaves and concluded that large numbers of young Matrixes working together was the best form of slavery and the least likely to fight back. Thus they planned to attack mostly Matrixes in the future.

Construction of the border wall

NOTE, this section may actually precede the creation of the three Doll republics, but the events overlapped.

Still in 4206, STW joined an anti-Matrix coalition and began construction of a border wall intended to trap the Matrixes in Tata. STW promised that life for Matrixes would get worse each year, and that even the Dolls would live better and safer lives than any Matrixes who failed to escape Tata. An STW leader named Xidêri took the leading role in the border wall project.

Xidêri owned many Doll slaves. He had in late December 4205 begun setting up a slave labor system which taught the Dolls that their natural role was to serve Xideri and the other slavemasters, and that this role was hereditary, and so the Dolls were required to have large families so the slavemasters' pool of slaves would increase with each generation. Some Dolls shouldered so much abuse that they resolved to someday become as violent and as cruel as their masters, and STW directed these slaves into a new wing of STW's army which was assigned to Tata's border wall project.

Though Xidêri had laughed at the idea that Dolls could be violent, other STW leaders reminded him that the Dolls were descended from various tribes that had been very violent throughout their histories. Xideri then claimed that the Dolls were so mentally advanced that, while they were pacifists by nature, they had such clear consciences that they could commit acts of violence in a clear mental state whereas the slavemasters were bound by their emotions.[19]

STW's army forced the Matrix leaders to vote in favor of construction of the Wall, and the Matrix citizenry was told that the 500,000 Dolls were on their side and would help keep Tata stable and prosperous. The Dolls quickly built death camps for the Matrixes and forced resistors into trap rooms with no exit. Plagues that the Dolls had acquired from their previous abusers now spread to the Matrixes, and the Dolls denied them medical care. Tata's banks were looted and the Dolls claimed that they needed the money to fund the work they were doing in Tata. As the wall was completed, STW formally gave full control of Tata to the Dolls, as they knew that STW itself could no longer enter without the Dolls' permission.

The Dolls responded to the spread of plagues by blaming the Matrixes, and said that each person was responsible for maintaining their good health. Many babies were born with physical deformities and died shortly after birth. However, some Dolls protected the babies with deformities because they wanted to ensure that the next generation of Matrix adults would be so handicapped by their diseases that they would be much easier to control, even if their labor output was diminished. New homes were constructed with ceilings so low that adult Matrixes could not stand up. Many Matrixes were moved to the uplands in eastern Tata, where the cold weather weakened them even further; Dolls standing guard here told the Matrixes to warm themselves up by working harder.

Xideri at home

Even as STW supported the Dolls in Tata, STW leaders such as Xideri poured ever greater abuses on their Doll slaves in Baeba. Xideri had earlier stated that the punishments were only for pacifists, and that he would give free passage to Tata for any Dolls who promised to commit acts of violence against the Matrixes. However, once Tata was sealed, Xideri stopped delivering Dolls to Tata and simply treated these slaves less abusively than he treated the pacifists. Often, STW slavemasters had their slaves assemble toxic potions, which they were then forced to drink. Sexual abuse became very common, but some slavemasters quickly tired of traditional rape and set up fights where they would pierce their slaves' bodies with sharp objects while the slaves fought back with their bare hands.

One day, Xideri realized that he would probably get more pleasure from winning a major battle if he and his slaves were on the same side against a third-party enemy such as the Matrixes. This was according to the plan of STW's president, Lanīs. In mid-May 4206, Xideri sent some of his slaves into Tata to help the abusive Dolls set up a new middle class that would help them rule over the diseased Matrixes without the need for physical contact. He also attempted to purchase more slaves from STW, but STW warned him that their slaves had not been as thoroughly abused as his, and would be more likely to rebel. Hearing this, he changed his mind and went to work with his own slaves only.

When Xideri arrived in Tata he saw that the Dolls had killed so many Matrixes that they had outdone even the worst of Xideri's own abusive practices. He chose to submit to the Dolls himself, although he did not sign a binding treaty. He remained in Tata for a further two years, although he visited Baeba several times. With Xideri absent, many of his opponents inside STW began to push for him to be ejected from STW, and sent missions to rescue his slaves. However, Lanīs defended Xideri, and Xideri's slaves had been so traumatized by their abuse that they actually fought against their rescuers, saying that they preferred to remain in the only world they knew. When word of this reached Tata, Xideri returned to Baeba, loaded up his slaves, and brought them with him into Tata.

Birth of the Clouds

Rapala's governors now considered STW their primary enemy, and were interested in making STW their only enemy by forging alliances with all non-STW parties. They renamed their empire Panu in honor of the Swamp Kids, and created a new league called the Clouds, open to anyone who opposed STW. They realized that they would need the Swamp Kids on their side if they were to conquer STW. Many Swamp Kids were still enslaved by other leagues, and the Swamp Kids had refused to enslave the willing Cupbearers who had surrendered to them in Baeba Swamp, so the governors of Panu promised to put the Swamp Kids at the head of the anti-slavery coalition if they were to join.

The Key

The Swamp Kids at first refused to join the alliance. They demanded that Panu's anti-slavery activists release all their slaves — Swamp Kids and others — or else face simultaneous attacks from the Swamp Kids and STW. But the Swamp Kids' leaders were desperately seeking allies, so they agreed to the new treaty even though they suspected that Panu would never give up their slaves. The merger of the Swamp Kids and the Clouds produced yet another new league called the Key. They wanted to unite all of the slaves and all of the people who opposed slavery into a single army, leaving only STW on the opposite side. They claimed to have won the support of the Slopes, and began referring to their adult male members as Slopes, but in fact most Slopes had refused the alliance because they did not want to give up their slaves.

The Key leaders released all their slaves as promised, but maintained the right to conscript supporters into the military. The Swamp Kids were not impressed, and predicted that the Key's "military" would consist primarily of slaves doing plantation labor to produce food for their leaders. They remained a part of the Key alliance, but tried to occupy territory in which mostly ex-Swamp Kids would live so that they would not be quickly captured by slave drivers.

Interactions with Panu

None of Rapala's towns had any powerful anti-STW resistance movements anymore ... even the Slopes had begun to support STW because Rasparism appealed to them. Slopes were very open-minded people whose political allegiance was never for certain, however, so STW realized that they needed to be able to kill all of the Slopes should the Slopes later become powerful and then turn against STW.

They figured that the Slopes were really not much stronger, per capita, than the Dolls had been, so they planned to attack with much the same strategy they had used against Dolls. Rapala had advanced weapon technology, however, and if all of Rapala were to unite against STW a very destructive war could result.

Clouds attempt to adapt

Meanwhile, STW itself was beginning to break apart over the issue of slavery. The slaveowners were not the richest ones, because they spent so much time abusing their slaves that they got less work done than did those who used free labor. In Xema, a man named Mororaka who opposed STW launched an attack, claiming loyalty to the Swamp Kids. Like other Xemans, he claimed no loyalty to Xema itself and fought only for his own interests.

STW soon defeated Mororaka, and he switched sides to share in STW's power. STW began to expand into the desert. However, just as STW was attracting its enemies to join, the Key army began winning battles against STW and regaining lost territory deep in the wilderness.

Spying

A battalion of spies broke through Tata's border wall and began documenting Xideri's abuses. But Xideri's army soon captured them and subjected them to such painful torture that he was able to extract secrets from them instead. He then declared war on Baeba Swamp and sent Dolls to fight for him.

Contact with Creamland

By this time, STW had established trade in Creamland with a female military leader named Šasuasa, the daughter of the leaders of Kebanq and Lakap, who were both STW members and both of Laban descent. Yet Šasuasa had declared war on STW's Tata project, and she had sent her private army into Tata in an attempt to rescue the surviving Matrixes from their death camps. The Dolls claimed that they supported Šasuasa as well, but they could not fool her. The Dolls ordered their slaves to fight Šasuasa in the event that she ever broke through, and hurriedly built walls even taller and more sturdy than those they had already built.

The president of STW, a woman named Lanīs, had only now begun to recognize the problem Šasuasa was presenting. STW was so focused on economics that they had signed a treaty with a leader who was at war with them, and showed no sign of stopping. Like a parasite, Šasuasa took power from STW and gave nothing back. She promised war against non-Rasparas, but had done nothing yet that was not selfishly motivated. Also, many STW members were being dragged into Šasuasa's effective slavery by lopsided agreements with Šasuasa. Many STW leaders, sympathetic to Šasuasa, had signed away much of their power to her, getting nothing in return. Lanīs became the most vocal of the anti-Šasuasa group, as she had the most power (Lanīs had more or less merged STW with the national government by this time). She threatened to shut down many of the nation's services if trade with Šasuasa did not stop.

But in July 4209, Šasuasa gave Xidêri all of her military secrets, and signed an alliance with Xidêri because she believed Xidêri was going to do his best to conquer the Empire and force its people to work for the benefit of Šasuasa's empire. In 4209, Xidêri enlisted some Laban soldiers into his army, and fled with them to a new location with a ship he had just had built for him. He invaded many parts of the Empire and managed to steal over a million slaves by using Šasuasa's stealthy kidnappers. Šasuasa also let Xidêri use some of her soldiers, but these soldiers, called the rappe, were not yet strong enough to actually invade, and could only attack with chemicals.

Slave revolt

In 4217, Baeba managed to get Xideri's original slaves to revolt against him. He then became a slave himself, though he soon escaped. Nevertheless, without his slaves, he was powerless, and since he could no longer control Tata, he chose to return to Baeba as a prisoner, protecting his life by performing manual labor and by passing military secrets to the Baebans.

Nama's last war

Due to the war with Taboo (the Key), Šasuasa fell from power in 4221, but Tata's abusive governors[20] fled away. However, a new enemy had emerged in the form of Asala, a union of people who had immigrated from Anzan to Nama. Previously, Anzan had invaded Nama and abused its people many times. Now Nama was looking for assurance that the two empires could still be friends even though Anzan had always abused them in the past. Asala decided that this cry for help meant that Nama was incredibly weak. Anzan asked for permission to simply take over all of Nama, and Nama agreed, although money was paid to the previous leaders to help them find a new way of life. Thus Nama became part of Anzan. However, the Andanese chose to let an independent state named Nama continue to exist, because its unique form of government appealed to its many people, even if it meant its military was prone to rot and wither away a little bit more every century.

Then Asala, acting as Nama, entered the war by attacking both sides simultaneously, sparing only those few people still alive that pledged allegiance to Nama.

Nama's old leaders then then attacked Asala, saying that the Asalans had gotten out of control. They responded by declaring war on the old leaders too, meaning that they were at war with the entire world. But these people were now powerless, as they only had the allegiance of certain parts of the civilian population of Nama, whereas the entire military had signed on with Anzan purely on the rationale that they figured they might occasionally win a battle with Anzan backing them up whereas as Nama they were guaranteed to lose even in their own homeland. Thus the old leaders fled to Xema and assimilated to the nomadic subsistence lifestyle of the other Xemans.[21]

With STW and all its slaves gone, the Asalans decided to explore the outside world some more. They had had some exposure in previous years, such as when they invaded Lobexon, but now they began 'the Cosmopolitan Age' when they tried to present Nama as just another nation among many on the planet.

Notes

  1. "futura 500" claims it was imported from Clubia.
  2. This is probably off by some power of ten .... too confused to figure it out now. It may have even been 900,000 and two million. This would be a ridiculous price even by STW's standards, however, as they mostly sold items with prices in the three and four figures. A newspaper selling at 2 million indasi would imply a daily wage of about 50,000 indasi for each employee, in an empire with an average monthly salary of about 60,000 indasi. Thus the children would be employed at about 25 times the average salary of adults. This can only make sense if this refers to a price in asala instead of indasi, and from a stage where inflation had spiraled out of control. (And it therefore would be meaningless.) However, perhaps the stated figures are correct after all and the children were paid at 2.5 times the rate of adults.
  3. complete3.doc p 82; word 931 is kŭhi "spear"
  4. This rule did not apply when STW began building bases in northern latitudes, however.
  5. Later she declared herself infinitely rich.
  6. what is the word for a kingdom that gets absorbed into a state? Either shire or county could work.
  7. red notebook, go to beginning of section with profiles of boys and then animals; the census is merely of "the Empire" and may be 4208, 4212, or some other date. 4192 assumes that it is specifically TLC. furthere more, there are 2 scales.
  8. His wife is given two different names in the same paragraph!!! and then a third name in a subsequent paragraph, so I am not sure who is who. The original document was on paper and is long gone.
  9. Does this mean the Soap Bubbles are the same party as the Rusted Pearls?
  10. Source says that she then changed the name of Hōmoya to "God, please hold this land." However, the Gold party would not have approved a religious name.
  11. Possibly the Leapers
  12. "rump Pipatia"
  13. Issia "POM-Pipatia"
  14. UPL territory. (Vutago was Pipalita.)
  15. search XFutura for "batlle" (sic)
  16. strawb.doc on p 190 says that the Cupbearers ("Pappis") had not been founded yet, but this would mean that there were two Doll leagues with the same orientation. This could be resolved by saying that even if the groups considered themselves separate, BAX did not.
  17. Though it is possible that UPL is simply the undifferentiated Doll league from which the others arose. This would require an explanation of the backstory which led BAX to recognize the Cupbearers. It may also mean that there was never such a place as Sahahami, since it would then be identical with Baeba or at least northern Baeba.
  18. Thus, Cupbearers and HLP are in fact the same league.
  19. STRAWB 182
  20. In STRAWB.DOC, they renamed Tata "Hell".
  21. The area of Xema they lived in was sometimes called the Refuge, named after the Oyster war territory, but it must have had a proper name of its own.