Much has changed on Ataraxia since the Alliance stun-bombed the entire Freefall area a year ago and indiscriminately incapacitated hundreds of Alliance citizens. Anti-Alliance newsfeed reports of “The Freefall Atrocity” blanketed the Cortex as these victims recovered and began to tell their stories. The subsequent military investigation precipitated a fierce debate within the Federal district command about the continued need for a troop presence on the ground in Freefall.
Furthermore, the Alliance courts have ruled that the Magistrate’s mineral lease holdings on Ataraxia are forfeit and that the Alliance therefore no longer needs to exercise stewardship over his former leaseholds; this means that all mineral rights on Ataraxia have been released for reissue, except for those holdings already acquired by Dexeldyne Industries.
It is now legal for any small prospector or independent mining operation to stake a claim to any of the unclaimed smaller mineheads scattered around the Freefall area and set up to mine any mineral EXCEPT ataraxite, which is still illegal to own or trade. Not surprisingly, this has triggered a “gold rush” into the town of Freefall, as local miners as well as off-worlders flock in to stake claims and try to strike it rich. With all the mercenaries, bandits, cult zealots, and other unsavory types also attracted by the promise of easy pickin’s, the trick will be DEFENDING a claim once it is staked. But, hey, the Wheel keeps turnin’, dong ma?