Red Velvet Association
The Red Velvet Association (or RVA) is a quasi-state organization comprised of the various settlements which dot the Red Velvet Desert. While more High Rostran in make up and functionally still part of the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy, the RVA takes many of its cues, in terms of its ambitions for expanded local autonomy, from the Hermitage Island Fellowship.
Citizens of the Red Velvet Association are a hardened, pragmatic sort, an outlook shaped by the hardscrabble conditions of their chosen place of settlement.
Demography and Population
More than one half of the RVA population is of High Rostran descent. The remaining half of the population is evenly split between Low Rostran and Civil Ovinex ethnicities. The most common religion among Velveteers is Rostran Esotericism, with the Ixa Ad-Korvidiu sect being the most popular one in the region. An ever-changing population of travellers (often Elovisian trade airship crews en route to other parts of The Rostran Arc from the Coalition territories) maintain connections to RVA settlements.
The Red Velved Association lacks a military of it's own, relying on the RACMF for international defense and local settlement militias for civil defense.
The Red Velvet Association remains officially bound to the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy, though the RVA council often takes action when responses from the Archipelago Parliament are slow in coming. The RVA maintains good relations with the Hermitage Island Fellowship on ideological grounds and the Coalition of Breakaway Colonies on economic grounds. The relationship between the RVA and the Avarix Corps is a complicated one, as the Corps tend to leave the settlements themselves be only because the settlements are often the only place to fence stolen goods, pick up vital resources not found from raiding trade routes, and recieve imporant services (i.e medical treatment).
Agriculture & Industry
Food is difficult to come by in large quanities in the Red Velvet Desert, with major cultivars including a few varieties of cactus (pad and fruit), dates, and some roots. Wild fowl, lizards, and certain insects provide protein, while hearty helpings of herbs and salt help to 'make the most' of meagre portion sizes.
Trade & Transport
Because the RVA territories lie along a major trade route between the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy and the Coalition of Breakaway Colonies, the RVA benefits from a large throughput of trade goods and a goodly portion of the market for airship resupply services. Settlements along or within the commissures - or even aboard the cable-suspended skystations found there - see a lot of traffic during peak trading seasons. The rather loose customs standards of the RVA help the population profit from gray- and black-market activities as well as legitimate trades. Intra-Association trade is carried out through the use of sandsail caravans, small aircraft, or small airships. The local geography renders most roadways impractical; even the high rocky mountains at the cube verticies are only sporadically connected via edge mountain ranges, and the silt seas have a tendency to swallow up large-scale infrastructure projects without constant foundation maintenance. Similarly, there is no widespread power grid or water supply system - in the RVA, every settlement must still provide for its own existential needs despite the help of the council.
Local mining and 'mining' (i.e. stolen Eudoxium scrap) products, are common export items for the RVA.
Much like the Hermitage Island Fellowship, the Red Velvet Association is run by a council comprised of representatives from each consitituent settlement. The means by which these representatives are selected varies from settlement to settlement, with some hailing from important families while others are elected via direct democracy. There is no set form of local government - only the belief that local governance in general is far more efficient at resolving life-or-death matters than a distant central government. In any case, edicts from the Archipelago Parliament hypotheticall supercede council edicts, though there have been movements to recognize the RVA council as it's own 'island' for the purpose of representation in the Parliament.
Part of the original impetus for the creation of the Red Velvet Association was the fact that the settlements in the Red Velvet Desert lacked a uniform defense against criminal activity - such as sandsail convoys getting raided by what were, in essence, naval pirates in a different form. While the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy Marine Forces do attempt to uphold law in the region, the region's remoteness from the RACMF's logistical centers in Rostral C limited such activities. To ameliorate this issue, the RVA retains a professional Sheriff, with Deputies scattered throughout the cube on patrols and stationed in some of the larger settlements. More than a few of these deputies were once Avarix Corps pirates, who have been given an opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of the law in exchange for using their intimate knowledge of the terrain and former underworld contacts for the betterment of the settlements.
Official State Religion
While perfectly willing to assert their autonomy in terms of local affairs, the RVA is by no means in rebellions from the RAC.
While the Hermitage Island Fellowship is isolationist and physically distant from the RVA, the two organizations share a frontiersman's attitude towards the importance of local responses to issues rather than authoritative edicts from the distant Archipelago power.
The relationship between the RVA and the Avarix Corps is complicated. While the Avarix have been known to raid isolated RVA settlements, they do not do so very often and will disown any Corps members caught in the act; raiding the local settlements is, ultimately, bad for business. On the other hand, Avarix activities are intimately tied into the economies of certain RVA settlements, with the two organizations often chosing to overlook their differences when life-sustaining money and resources are on the line. Many RVA settlement leaders are willing to look the other way with regards to Avarix fencing, trade, or resupply activities in exchange for the right kind of compensation.