Further Foodstuffs (NPC corporation)
Ardishapur and Sarum families. The products of Further Foodstuffs are mostly used by the subjects of these two families, with what little is left surplus allowed to be sold on the open market. This has curbed the expansion opportunities of the company, though it means the fleets of Ardishapur and Sarum will never lack for food.
Further Foodstuffs is an Amarr Empire corporation that was founded in 21302, during the reign of Armani I. While originally supplying food to the Ardishapur Family exclusively, the company began providing grain to select arms of the Imperial Navy at the request of Damius III in 22478. After corporate expansion into the Shumam system proved more costly than anticipated, Further Foodstuffs consolidated their existing assets within the Domain region, effectively retaining ownership of the majority of the surface of the planets they used as farming worlds. They also began limiting their grain supply to Ardishapur and Sarum houses exclusively from that point, a tradition that has since been maintained for hundreds of years.
Further Foodstuffs has its earliest origins in the Equilibrium of Mankind. Ocilan Ardishapur had arranged for the production and stockpiling of food in preparation for the anticipated backlash to his denouncement of the Followers of God. He not only found farmers that were loyal to his cause but Holders willing to turn over their lands. When Karon Ardishapur destroyed the base of operations for the Equilibrium, the stockpiles that were seized were turned over to those that had remained faithful to God. This move was duplicated years later, when Queron I conducted his brutal purges to rid Ardishapur Prime of the Equilibrium’s terrorist threat. Supplies of food were once again provided to those that had proven themselves faithful.
The lands themselves became the exclusive property of Holders within the Ardishapur Family, under the condition that the spoils were used to benefit the House. Those Amarr tasked with overseeing the crops recognized the goodwill that resulted from passing on the produce to those that provided commendable service. A cooperative emerged that decreed that “If you further the righteous cause of God; He will have food for you at His table.”
These rewards subsequently became known as Further Foodstuffs. Those charged with the production and distribution of them set about acquiring more land, particularly for Amarrian Wheat. These fields produced more than was required, so that the excess generated could be used to generate wealth, if not used as a currency in and of itself. The Ardishapur House also began making profits from the sale of these foodstuffs in the wider Amarr market. This became especially true during the rapid expansion of the Empire, as grain proved to be a vital resource to trade, surviving long journeys aboard craft where other perishable food did not.
Further Foodstuffs expanded operations to orbital plantations where plants that had been cultivated to a particular age in stations in orbit were shipped to nearby worlds. These stations served as controlled environments where plants could be cared for until an appropriate level of maturation. Further Foodstuffs were one of the organizations that pioneered the use of orbital stations to nurture and produce plants in hydroponic farms, but the quality of the grain from crops grown entirely in orbit was never felt to be as ‘pure’ as those that were grown on the planet, despite increased yield. Grain harvested from plants nurtured in artificial gravity and without natural weather and sunlight was often smaller and less robust overall.
While the work is enormously labor intensive, Further Foodstuffs started transporting young crops from the plantations to the tilled earth of planets below so that they could then be strengthened. This delicate work could not be conducted by machines and required significant use of burgeoning slave populations.
Discovery of Solinum Grain
The largest boon in Further Foodstuffs history took place when solinum grain was discovered on the second planet of the Vashkah system, a territory overseen by the Ardishapur Family. Hardy, resistant to heat and developing slowly, crops of this new grain were found to persist in drought conditions. Solinum retains whatever moisture it can obtain to sustain it through periods where it may not have it readily available. The plant itself was extremely water efficient and crops that were exposed to too much moisture often missed harvest season as the resultant grain was usually hard to dry and consequently of poor quality. It was also especially prone to mold while in storage. Heavier crops also resulted in stalk rot or breakage far more often. By necessity solinum required little in terms of extra irrigation. The third and fourth planets in the Vashkah system were quickly set up as huge solinum farming worlds, largely under the corporation’s influence.
House Sarum Joins the Table
As Damius III made plans to observe and eventually invade Minmatar space, he called upon the other Amarr to contribute to the strength of the fleets venturing outwards. It was during this time that Further Foodstuffs were wrangled into providing their gifts to members of the exploration forces and the Imperial Navy.
Those Ardishapur tasked with the corporation’s management expressed some reluctance at the prospect of opening their reserves too wide, citing limitations to the contributions they could actually make. Damius had bureaucrats from Sarum, a house more loyal to him, move in to secure part ownership of Further Foodstuffs in response, to assist in the thorough assessment of what resources were available and their subsequent distribution to at least one other family. Instituting Khanid would have been considered too obviously antagonistic, but this was thought to be the next best thing. Pitched as a political gesture meant to unite the Sarum and Ardishapur Houses, most insiders knew that Damius was cementing influence over a family that he had often clashed with in the past. He dictated that Further Foodstuffs would begin supplying grain to the Imperial Navy, primarily those of the Ardishapur and Sarum houses, in exchange for slaves upon the subjugation of the Minmatar. He also promised significant ownership of planets in the Shumam system.
While the Ardishapur balked at the idea of sharing their gifts with others, the acquisition of Shumam was seen as a boon that placated those that had originally protested. While there were no temperate planets, and the system was largely inhospitable, the seventh barren world had enough atmosphere for construction to take place. The bitterness of those overseeing the corporation was to return years later, though, as the installation of the same infrastructure that had worked in Vashkah proved far more costly than originally projected in the new system. This also followed two particular incidents that took place that not only taxed the resources of the corporation further but increased tensions between the Amarr and their significant slave labor-force.
Shiksi are a particularly hardy variety of arachnid, indigenous to Vashkah III. Typically fifteen centimeter in length, the large species had altered its behavior with the introduction of expansive croplands across the surface. While the majority had previously taken shelter from the higher temperatures of the day by burrowing into the earth, these arachnids now moved into the much more abundant shelter of the solinum fields. As Ealur slaves tended to the crops, particularly around harvest, they frequently disturbed these arachnids.
Shiksi produce a long ragged wound when they bite, due to the strong muscles of their chelicerae, and employ a neurotoxic venom. The extreme fatigue, nausea and muscle paralysis that results can persist for days afterwards. The impact on labor was significant, not only due to the loss of the injured, but those subsequently unwilling to enter the fields. Many were punished for their natural trepidation, especially those working much slower as they moved about carefully, avoiding an encounter with the shiksi.
As grain production was not meeting projected standards, and Further Foodstuffs investments started to look like they would not be paying the required dividends, the corporation moved to eradicate the arachnids from their extensive croplands.
The insecticide that was produced from their sponsorship was not extensively tested and was instead implemented quickly as soon as it was found to have the desired effects on shiksi. The arachnids were largely eliminated from the fields, and consequently large sections of their original habitats. Unfortunately, the shiksi were not the only creatures affected.
The insecticide led to long-term health repercussions for two generations of slaves. At first the symptoms were still being attributed to the shiksi, but the lack of the usual pronounced bites, and the introduction of new, longer term side-effects pointed to exposure to the insecticide as the culprit. Respiratory complications, skin irritation and fatigue throughout the plantations of Vashkah III reduced productivity in that system for several years. Ealur slaves, already viewed unfavorably, were particularly susceptible to the illness spreading amongst them, which left their taskmasters and their new Minmatar stocks relatively unscathed. Prejudice against the Ealur that existed on the planet was reinforced. The play Plantation, written by Ammatar author Dekkameron in 22748, drew upon some of the more reprehensible events that took place on Vashkah III around this time. The piece is often considered racist, drawing as it did on the violent oppression and discrimination that occurred. Many Ealur toiling in the fields of Vashkah III were to be buried in its sands, pressed to work despite their ailments, beaten or even starved when their rations were cut if productivity quotas were not met.
While the hardier Ealur endured, and contributed to the strengthening of their stock, the Ardishapur investing in Further Foodstuffs future have always been amongst those calling for more slaves and pushing the Reclaiming forward.
The Firwa Immolations
At first viewed as far more reliable than their previous slaves, Minmatar — almost exclusively Brutor — working the enormous fields being cultivated by Further Foodstuffs were found to be stealing solinum grain for use in the distillation of a potent, clear alcohol christened Firwa. The beverage was labelled a barbarity by the Amarr, who considered the theft of grain a defiance of their new authority, and a hedonistic waste of a gift from God. Those found to be producing it were harnessed in front of an assembly of co-workers, friends and family, and had the entirety of their seized stock poured over their heads before it was ignited. Each plantation had at least one member of their ranks burned in such a fashion as an example to the others, regardless of the sometimes paltry quantity of alcohol that was found in their possession.
The corporation had a desire to grow beyond the initial infrastructure and terraforming that took place in the Shumam system, but after costly setbacks, decided to limit their operations to the worlds that they had already acquired and worked to clear thousands of kilometers of farming land on. Shumam proved far more costly than originally projected, particularly in light of what was happening back in Vashkah with the shiksi, the pesticide developed to eradicate them, and the effects both had on their slave labor force. It was these years that made the corporation wary of further expansion without significant capital behind them, something they've never quite managed to achieve. Their focus remains on maintaining their current holdings and producing the foodstuffs that define them.
Further Foodstuffs has also come to represent many of the practices that other cultures in New Eden find offensive, namely policies that put the needs of elite landowners and religious zealots before those that do the actual work, and the use of slave labor. It was practices such as these that were contrasted when Mimian Mimian split from the corporation and started the competing Joint Harvesting, whose inception, business practices and philosophy serve as a stark comparison to the insular methods of Further Foodstuffs.
In YC 112, Wentach Mennar, a politician on Pator, issued a statement in response to backlash over a decision to provide a grant to a re-staging of the play Plantation. The play had been updated but still drew on centuries old racial tensions, both between Amarr and the different slave populations that had been under their heel, much to the disgust of media watch-groups. The Matari Writer’s Association supported the decision and tried to focus attention on the play as a commentary on power rather than slavery. Koto Rydd, the Association’s spokesperson, drew attention to the struggles that existed between the slaves themselves, but this was felt to further incite protestors, particularly one scene that originally depicted a Brutor bludgeoning an Ealur. The play had been updated and avoided referencing ages old racial tensions, placing it in a modern political setting rather than the huge fields on Vashkah III that had inspired the now 600 year old work. Protestors considered the update just as inflammatory as the source, sending death threats to the show’s director. It was now felt to be a thinly veiled caricature of Shakor and his parliament, comparing them to the Amarr slaveholders in the original work. The director defended his play, but ultimately the protests culminated in violence at the preview and a bombing after the plays opening night, which destroyed the production’s costumes and sets, shutting the show down.
The anniversary of the initial Firwa Immolations has been observed by families descended from those burned for several generations, especially after the Minmatar Rebellion. Many Republic citizens, particularly those related to the mostly Brutor slaves that worked the fields of the Vashkah system, will pay handsomely for the increasingly expensive beverage in order to have a shot of firwa ready for the day. It has also become a tradition to burn a black-robed, alcohol-soaked effigy of an Amarr Holder on each anniversary, but this custom is frowned upon by both Amarr and Minmatar authorities as an incitement to discord. Nevertheless, such burnings, while always condemned and denounced by leaders, have annually appeared on broadcast news in the Republic. Public response is usually quite positive.
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