|This article, Praesia, written by Brigadier Kygro, was voted as the Best Location of 2012 in the Fifth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Praesia, was written by Brigadier Kygro. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
|This article, Praesia, is currently under active construction.|
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Relatively few species or civilizations in the galaxy are even aware of its existence; for millenia, direct contact with post-Ecumene civilizations has been minimal. Originally, the solar system had little value. It contained several celestial bodies, most of which possessed little to no wealth or capacity for life; eventually, these were all demolished and used as resources to build Praesia.
The surface of Praesia largely appears to have been manipulated by its inhabitants. Many geographical features follow a strategic pattern, such as the positioning of mountain ranges and bodies of water. Large bodies of water far from major population centers are scarce. Hundreds of other settlements, given to their substantial breadth, are still sustainable; what many regions lack in surface water, they tend to make up for in groundwater reserves.
As part of its overall ruggedness, Praesia's landscape holds few significant forests and jungles, whose growth is extensively inhibited by the environment's stressful surface gravity. Per contra, it hosts no shortage of vast deserts, whose climates are often too harsh to support any life; this is further complemented by hazardous physical features. Underground water sources may still be found, however, and in more moderate deserts, these are usually landmarked by systematic communities of desert-dwelling fauna.
The specific nature of many mountains on Praesia denotes their artificial construction. Being common sites for military outposts, untamed areas of the mountains are laden with hazardous and often impassable features. They are not entirely unnavigable, but are usually given very specific pathways. On a mountain of medial elevation, comparable to Earth's Himalayas, exposed flesh becomes frostbitten in anywhere from under one minute to mere seconds depending on equipment, the wind, and season. Furthermore, the lack of oxygen atop these mountains makes it virtually impossible to survive without an appropriate apparatus; as such, local fauna cannot be sustained, except at elevations considered to be below-average.
In general, the climates of regions closer to the cities are naturally much more moderate. Within the boundaries of settlements, however, technologically manipulated environmental spheres compensate by moderating temperature, gravity, atmospheric pressure and other factors to more comfortable degrees. As a result, there are clear contrasts between domestic creatures, which are suited to living in moderate conditions, and feral creatures, which have adapted to endure the severity of the wilderness.
A significantly smaller world, Praeziak is approximately 38,000 kilometers in diameter and distinguishes itself as the only other planet to host a significant Praesian population. It had also been the only habitable world to originally occupy the system before Praesia was built, with a naturally-developed biosphere. Before falling into the Praesians' hands, it was ruled by its indigenous sentient population.
Whereas only about 36% of Praesia's surface is water, Praeziak's surface contains approximately 68%. Dozens of expansive, densely-populated and lively urban centers sprawl across its surface. Many ancient ruins and artifacts of historical significance exist, reminiscent of countless years of conflict, societal, cultural and technological growth and development.
There are six other celestial bodies that orbit Praesia. Most of them, however, are quite barren and generic, bearing conditions that render them unable to naturally sustain life, but are often used for resource-gathering and industrial facilities. With no dire need for increased living space, no resources have yet been expended to colonize them. Typical characteristics of these bodies include vast deserts, ice caps, volcanic conditions, high atmospheric toxicity and/or little to no water. Most of them, however, contain significant mineral wealth. Thus, they are harnessed by Praesians to create military vehicles, armor, and other equipment, but are not quite as valuable as the asteroid belts most industrial complexes are situated upon.
The dominant residents of Praesia are known as Praesians. The Praesians have attained a characteristic ability to commune amongst themselves by a means of extrasensory perception; more specifically, the transfer of thoughts, ideas and understanding by neurochemical signals which are transmissible from very limited distances. Most individuals cannot perfectly convey a message in this manner without the combined use of speech; in this way, they may be referred to as "semi-telepathic."
A very long, militaristic and ethnocentric history has allowed Praesian technology to become highly advanced, earning Tier 1 status in technological achievement.
Since Praesian anatomy is not well-suited to the high gravitational forces of the planet, cities were designed to support large force fields that not only offer protection from external, weaponized threats, but could also sustain environmental control systems and limited anti-gravity fields which alleviate much of the stress put onto one's body. This allows for a more comfortable degree of living without drastic evolutionary changes to body structure. Should one decide to venture outside of a city's boundaries, specially-designed environmental suits are issued to the population which allow the wearer to tolerate significantly higher-gravity environments. Most vehicles share these capabilities, as well.
In general, there are two main dispositions shown by the Praesian people. Most are proud of their race, history and achievements; a few, however, disagree in certain key aspects. One side, which encompasses the vast majority of the population, perceives the Praesians as the only truly civilized race. They hold all other races in scant regard, acting very profound in their distaste towards anything related to other species. Others, however, demonstrate a more open-minded temperament: they do not consider others to be so far beneath them; they tend to exhibit much more hospitable customs, and are often more intrigued by foreign societies and cultures. Most who hold the latter beliefs are thoroughly persecuted for harboring supposedly traitorous ideals; very few remain on Praesia to this day, mostly taking refuge on Praeziak instead.
The Praesians, although they did not go by the same name, began as a part of the prehistoric human civilization after achieving sophisticated technological advancement and interstellar travel by 150,000 BCE. As ancient humanity expanded across the Orion Arm, a technocratic sub-faction had arisen and taken extensive advantage of Precursor artifacts; at some point before 110,000 BCE, their attempts at directly manipulating some extent of the technology manifested in a fleet of newly-built, highly advanced ships. Immediately afterward, the Technocracy analyzed the state of galactic affairs: there was little room left for conquering the galaxy, and they had drifted too far from mainstream humanity; furthermore, due to the number of smaller conflicts between humans and Forerunners, it was predicted that a much larger conflict would inevitably overtake both civilizations.
Despite their new technology, it was not believed to be capable of turning the tide of such a potentially large-scale conflict; this was mainly because the Technocracy could not afford to build a large number of ships. Furthermore, the breakthrough in technology mainly revolutionized faster-than-light travel, but had not yet granted the Technocracy a significant degree of weapons superiority. The Technocracy then elected to emigrate from the Milky Way galaxy in the hopes of creating their own interstellar empire.
In time, the Technocracy drifted as far as the Virgo Cluster. Initially, they were met with little resistance, proceeding to establish their first planetary footholds and gather resources. Having acquired the means to further refine and reproduce their technology, they began to conquer world after world, exterminating the countless pre-existing civilizations they encountered. Eventually, the Technocracy was able to develop warfare capabilities just as advanced as their capacity for interstellar travel, and before long, they achieved status as a Tier 0 civilization.
The Technocracy continued to grow exponentially; in relatively short order, they subjugated or destroyed the species they encountered, conquering each system until they had occupied their first galaxy. Having attained their dreams of conquest, the Technocracy henceforth dubbed itself the Praesian Dominion; the territory they had accumulated was not enough, however, and the Dominion continued its conquests.
Achieving a massive population and an ever-growing military of unprecedented size, the Praesians continued to sweep across much of the Virgo Cluster for the next millennium. At some point, the Dominion had swept far enough to consider expanding into the neighboring galactic groups. But before they could expand any further, the Praesians encountered a belligerent, migrant civilization of similar strength. Having taken notice of their capabilities, for the first time, the Dominion did not immediately initiate hostilities. By contrast, the foreigners attacked without hesitation, and later came to be called "Decessa" by the Praesians.
Despite the attempts at calculation before open conflict had arisen, the Dominion vastly underestimated the strength of the Decessa. For thousands of years of conflict, the latter seemed more or less immune to conventional warfare; many Praesians began to believe that the Decessa were infinite in number. Before long, the countless strongholds accumulated by the Dominion succumbed to the Decessa. The Praesians were ultimately pushed back to their initial foothold in the Virgo Cluster; during their final stand, the Praesians attempted to gather their last few vessels and evacuate. Millions more were killed as all but one of the ships were destroyed; the few hundred thousand accompanying the last ship were able to escape safely.
The Silent Era
c. 95,000 BCE, the surviving Praesians returned to the Milky Way galaxy in search of refuge and a place from which they could rebuild their strength. As the Halo Array had already been fired, they found no trace of the Forerunners or the old human civilization they stemmed from; seeing this, they then turned back, establishing themselves within an isolated portion of the galaxy.
This period of time came to be known as the Silent Era. Throughout this stage, the Praesians slowly began to rebuild what they had lost. In order to build their new home world, they sacrificed many other celestial bodies and expended the abilities of their last surviving ship, which fell into disrepair soon after. While there was no longer any hope of retaining their Tier 0 civilization, the Praesians found much to salvage from the wreckage of their gargantuan vessel, preventing total stagnation. Now barely clinging to a Tier 2 state, the Praesians began to rebuild.
As they established the first cities and military outposts, their population grew rapidly. As their position became stable, they avidly pursued technological progress, both militarily and biologically: over countless generations, the Praesians continued to develop and naturalize many forms of augmentation, to the point of fundamentally enhancing genetic structure. It was in the midst of this process that the Praesians developed their particular form of speech and neurological communication. Although their xenophobia was largely instilled by the Decessa, it was during this era that the Praesians' sentiments of isolationism and ethnocentrism fomented even further.
Very late into the Silent Era, the Praesians began their comprehensive settlement of Praeziak, which was placed into Praesia's orbit during its construction. This instigated roughly three thousand years of conflict between the Praesians and the dominant indigenous species. Ultimately, the Praesians continued their efforts until they achieved their foothold; in the process, the natives, whom the Praesians came to refer to as the Zogburrat, slowly suffered widespread subservience and genocide for the next several thousand years.
The Praesian military is an integral part of their society, essentially maintaining status as the most important set of societal roles since their return to the Milky Way; military ideals also strongly influence the majority of their moral standards. The military also comprises the vast majority of Praesia's economic budget, holding exclusive rights to the most advanced technology there is to offer. Every soldier in each branch of the military is highly focused on learning and maintaining their sense of duty and discipline, usually willing to go to great lengths purely to fulfill their function as a unit, protect their comrades and, above all, their commanding officers.
All people are recognized as equals in society; rather, they are required to be equals. Everyone must carry their own weight and act to strengthen Praesia as a whole. The general mindset of the Praesian community is such that individuals are mere parts; to them, there is hardly any single person with any true strength or significance, and such strength is derived from a well-formed collective unit. While an extreme emphasis is put on unity over individuality, people are individually raised to become as strong as possible the for the purpose of making the collective unit stronger. To summarize their beliefs with one common Praesian maxim, "a strong whole may be built of weak parts, but the strongest whole will have the strongest parts."
Military service is compulsory, but also highly encouraged; people are raised to expect to serve in the military, and that they are expected by everyone to serve. Refusal to stand and defend Praesia would easily be considered treason. Many even choose to serve long after their obligatory contracts have expired. Every recruit is thoroughly tested to ensure that their resolve is strong enough to become a soldier, and those that remain steadfast are recruited. The Praesians have very little, if any tolerance for weak-willed or vulnerable soldiers.
Due to the manner in which Praesian society operates, it is very common for civilians to possess an adequate level of combat training. As standard procedure, each child is taken to a military academy by the age of 10; until then, they are primarily raised, educated and disciplined by their parents. At that point, the children undergo physical and mental training, which becomes incrementally more rigorous. They are disciplined even further and eventually given basic weapons training until graduation at the age of 18; from there, they must enter a branch of the military and pass another two years of rigorous training. From there they may decide to resign or continue service. Since every able body serves the military in some way, shape or form, constant physical activity and well-being is highly encouraged and constantly practiced.
To put it simply, Praesia's society operates under imperialistic principles with a distinct penchant for martial law.
Praesian society is ruled over by an Aulerei who resides in the Royal Palace in the heart of the capital city. The Auler serves as the commander-in-chief for all armed forces. The Auler actually does not partake in most political affairs that do not concern the military unless the Aulerei is unable to rule for some period of time. Likewise, the Aulerei will assume regency of the Auler's duties if they are unable to rule.
The Auler resides in the Grand Citadel, the central military headquarters, and the main garrison of the Praesian Royal Legion. The Auler's court contains a supplement of 50 councilors that are occasionally asked to provide him or her with advice.
The government is also organized with a plentiful supply of appointed regents, who are not only used as temporary replacements for when the ruler is indisposed, but also as decoys to prevent harm from befalling the Auler or Aulerei in certain public sessions.
The judicial system of Praesian society is extensively given to despotism; while legitimate court sessions are held to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused, most crimes that qualify as more than a mere nuisance are punishable by death; to engage in criminal activities would be to subvert the authority of the Praesian Royal Court and attempt to weaken the Praesian Dominion as a whole, which ultimately equates to treason. Each city has essentially been reduced to a police state; law enforcement agents monitor virtually everything, exist in very high numbers, and are encouraged towards brutality for the sake of local deterrence.
Trials are carried out with the most accuracy possible. The Praesians use their ability to neurologically communicate with one another as well as the most extensive investigation possible in order to accurately determine the culprit. In addition, there are no defense attorneys as part of a court case. A highly-experienced, highly-trained, hand-picked Royal Interpreter is given every fragment of available evidence relating to the crime. These, along with several other methods of determination, are used by the interpreter to decide whether or not the accused is guilty or to verify the culprit from a set of given suspects. As the penalties appear to be highly brutal and virtually unavoidable, the crime rate is consistently very low.
The Praesian language exists in both a very complex verbal and written form. Many symbols and single words are included in the language that can easily express a wide range of concepts simultaneously. Some words encompass several ideas or meanings within themselves.
The language is spoken using a distinct anatomical component. This feature allows for a double-tone within the voice or the ability to pronounce two different syllables at the same time.
In multi-syllable words, syllables are pronounced in pairs. For example, in the pronounciation of "Praesia", one would hear the pronounciations of "Prae-" and "-sia" simultaneously, overlapping one another. Due to this, even a non-Praesian who is well-versed and has much knowledge of the language will most likely find the majority of native speech to be unintelligible. This is a major factor that is utilized according to the planet's widespread sense of xenophobia in order to further distance Praesians from other races.
In words that have only one syllable or an odd number of syllables, those that cannot be paired are pronounced singularly, using only one vocal tone out of the two available to Praesians. Speech may also be harmonized into a single tone, where syllables are pronounced individually; this manner of speech is often applied to poetic or musical lyrics. A few Praesians decide to speak singularly even in everyday conversation; most do not, as the majorly-nationalist view of society sees this as being ashamed in the "true" language, and those who speak in this manner are often ridiculed or shunned by other members of society.
The determination of morality is most heavily reliant upon the legal aspects of society. People turn to the laws which they assume to show what is acceptable and what is not. For example, murder is not considered acceptable because it is illegal; conversely, it is illegal because it is considered unacceptable. On the other hand, a sanctioned duel between two individuals is accepted both by law and public perspective, because it allegedly displays courage and a sense of honor, depending on the challenger's reasons for doing so.
Many things are entirely circumstantial. Theft is illegal and therefore immoral, yet if a widely known figure or group is highly unpopular with the people, then stealing something from them is seen as a sign of defiance and independence from those that are unwanted by society; to that effect, the action would be widely supported by public opinion even though it is still illegal.
A sense of "lawful" and "chaotic" (comparable to the concepts of good and evil) is defined by the person's level of morality, which is judged by a summary of their overall behavior: the "good" and law-abiding citizens are lawful, and those that are "evil" or destructive are chaotic. The people who follow this general philosophy are called Legitimists. Most of the wealthy and ruling class assumes this belief to secure a better reputation with the people, as it is the most followed set of moral guidelines.
Aside from the very popular Legitimist philosophy, there exists a much more aloof perspective of society known as Neutralism. The general idea behind Neutralism is that morals and ethics do not exist in definite form, and are merely delusional concepts created by the minds of the people. These people generally treat laws as guidelines of society, but not morality.
As any typical person would, Neutralists generally respect laws and regulations, but do not revere them or use them as moral guidelines in any way. Neutralists typically understand the concept of morality -- Lawful and Chaotic -- as a point of view. Based on how people are raised, how they come to behave, and the overall preferences they develop in their lives, morality can only be determined within a very narrow scope based on an individual's own perspective. Since each individual has a different outlook on life, morality is therefore relatively indeterminable.
There are two distinct sects of Neutralists, known as Pure Neutralists and Corrupt Neutralists. The "Pure" sect follows the philosophy exactly as explained above. The "Corrupt" sect has a tendency to twist the ideas of this philosophy into an excuse to cause havoc. These believers are labeled by Legitimists as Chaotic, while the Pure sect is labeled as Amoral since they typically do not possess either disposition. Because of the negative reputation created by Corrupt Neutralists, many people tend to generalize all Neutralists as chaotic.