Aemaq

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Aemaq is an Elyran frontier world with one of the less populated worlds in the Republic itself. The planet is located in the al-Wakwak System, and dwells fairly close to the system’s star - resulting in a quite hard-to-inhabit environment on a planet dominated by vast chemical seas that cover upwards of 95% of the planet’s surface. The five moons orbiting Aemaq give these oceans often unpredictable behavior and tides, and extreme weather events are a common occurrence on its seas. The oceans of Aemaq are home to a vast amount of valuable chemicals and exotic maritime life, leading to the planet being fairly wealthy (if hazardous) and prosperous. The cities of Aemaq are built aboard hovering, anti-gravity magpulse platforms that hold them above the chemical seas, and they are shielded from the chemicals in the air by use of massive energy domes that protect the floating cities. Below these floating cities is an ocean teeming with life despite the chemicals, some of which can grow to titanic sizes. However, the oceanic life of Aemaq is remarkably docile towards humanity, with floating cities and massive sea creatures living side-by-side in the oceans.

The Aemaqii capital of Rumaidair is a massive floating city, which has come to be viewed as the premier example of floating cities on the planet in the Republic of Elyra and beyond. Utilizing magpulse drives similar to those found on Medina, Rumaidair floats a comfortable hundred meters above the Aemaqii Seas as it travels around the planet. The city itself is renowned throughout the Orion Spur as a key area for the chemical industry with it being able to produce extremely rare chemicals in numbers unreachable elsewhere due to massive chemical “scoops,” that draw materials from the seas themselves. All cities are like Rumaidair with hundreds of magpulse plates holding them aloft above the ocean, each plate steadily pulsing and readjusting itself as the ocean swells below it. The lack of land to live on outside of these cities has kept Aemaq’s population relatively low, and only half a billion residents calling it home.

Aemaq has an odd appearance when viewed from orbit: light reflecting off of the planet’s oceans leads to the world appearing to be a dark bluish-purple hue.

History

Aemaq was initially brought to the attention of the Republic of Elyra in 2352, when survey probes dispatched to the al-Wakwak System discovered that the planet was covered in seas of valuable chemicals. However, these same seas made the planet essentially impossible to colonize in the traditional manner: there was no land, the environment was remarkably prone to rapid temperature changes, and building standing platforms was impractical due to the highly-chemical nature of the Aemaqii Seas: they were hot, deep, and prone to extreme weather events that would easily damage conventional platforms. Many areas featured large concentrations of corrosive chemicals, further compounding the hazards and dangers of building platforms on Aemaq. Scattered attempts were made to construct platforms suitable for chemical refinement throughout the late 24th and early 25th century, with all of these attempts ending in failure and net losses the companies attempting them.

The one major economic success on Aemaq prior to its formal colonisation were the so-called “sea scoop” vessels operated by Elco and generally based out of orbital stations. Originally designed by Jewel Aerospace, these were turbojet-powered aircraft capable of extra-atmospheric flight (via a rocket booster) that would enter Aemaq’s atmosphere, suck up chemicals from its oceans, then travel to an orbital refinery to deposit their cargo. From their first flights in 2358 until the formal colonization of the planet’s surface sea scoops were viewed as the most practical method of gathering Aemaq’s chemical bounty despite their costs. However, following the formal colonisation of the Aemaqii surface, many sea scoops have been phased out due to their cost of operation. Elco still operates a significant – though smaller – fleet of the vessels, and many Aemaqii have come to regard them as something of a “planetary cultural symbol” of Aemaq. Due to their quicker reflexes and cooler heads under pressure, many contemporary sea scoops are partially or completely crewed by IPCs, both free and owned.

The dawn of applied phoronics technology in the early 2400s completely changed the nature of work and life on Aemaq. Magpulse, otherwise known as “hover tech” technology, initially pioneered on Medina in the 2300s by Osman Electrical Engineering, was made viable on a much larger scale thanks to phoron providing a greater power source for the magpulse drives in use. Magpulse drives could be made larger, more efficient, and more effective. The first modern magpulse drives were tested on Aemaq in 2421, in what would become the planetary capital of Rumaidair. The experiment proved to be a stunning success, and the following decades, along with significant investment by Elco and Osman Electric Industries, saw the planet rapidly become the center of Elyra’s chemical industry. With zero recorded failures, the magpulse systems of Aemaq remain a gold standard for the effectiveness of Elyran technology throughout the Orion Spur, and Aemaq remains the chemical hub of the Republic four decades after its initial colonisation.

An image of Aemaq from orbit, displaying its blackish-purple coloration when viewed from orbit.

Environment

The environment on Aemaq is a challenging one for human habitation due to its massive chemical seas. While the air is safely breathable for humans without long-term consequences, the natural rainfall on the planet is extremely caustic and hazardous. Most cities have large energy shields for the express purpose of stopping rainfall rather than the air. Temperatures on Aemaq vary wildly due to the massive seas: while it is typically cool and breezy (which can be seen in Aemaqii fashion), the temperature can rapidly increase when the planet’s typical cloud cover breaks. The increase in temperature from cloud breaks often agitate chemicals in the water, and fires are not uncommon at times.

The waters of Aemaq are extremely hazardous to enter without proper protection, and swallowing even a cup of seawater can lead to severe consequences if not immediately treated. Some exceptionally caustic areas of the constantly-shifting chemical deposits that make up the Aemaqii Seas have been known to eat through plasteel hulls. As a result, all officially authorized vessels on Aemaq must be fitted with magpulse drives similar to the cities, if on a smaller scale.

The seas of Aemaq are its primary, and arguably only, major feature. While the surfaces of the seas are well-mapped and charted, the deeper parts of the sea remain a mystery in most areas due to the fact that the seas rapidly become more caustic as one goes further down in depth, with anything below five-hundred meters in most areas being able to melt almost any man-made material. While there are some exceptions, such as the area around the floating city of Kulat and the south pole of Aemaq more generally, most areas of Aemaq have only really been explored to a depth of roughly 200 meters. The estimated ten kilometers beyond that are mostly unknown, aside from sonar images that are unclear due to background interference from noises below the surface and chemical interference. The occasional noise drifts up from the depths, but not much beyond that.

The Leviathans of Aemaq

Fauna on Aemaq are very unique: engorged on the chemicals present in the planet's seas, many creatures have grown to absolutely leviathan sizes. Some of Aemaq's so-called "sea leviathans," can range to be as long as a kilometer, with the largest specimen ever recorded being officially registered as 2,108 meters in length. While these leviathans have opted to coexist peacefully with humanity since the colonization of Aemaq, they remain a constant presence in the minds of many colonists. The roars of larger leviathans can be heard for hundreds of kilometers in either direction, and fights between leviathans are both an awe-inspiring and terrifying sight, in addition to a major source of tourism for the planet and revenue for its entertainment industries. A genre of so-called “leviathan films” has formed around dramatizations of fights between Aemaq’s leviathans, and prominent films from the genre have found success throughout the Orion Spur.

The leviathans of Aemaq are an extremely diverse category of species, and feature a variety of adaptations to excel in their chosen chemical environments. Due to the ever-shifting nature of Aemaq’s oceans, this means that these leviathans are typically migratory and gradually make their way across the planet’s ocean as they live their lives. Studies conducted on the leviathans have however revealed a common trait amongst them: they are remarkably intelligent. The leviathans of Aemaq are capable of communicating with one another, and some smaller leviathans have been observed using tools to gain an advantage over larger competitors. Interactions with humanity by the leviathans has been fairly limited, with most seemingly willing to stand back and observe humanity from afar. To what end this observation is intended is uncertain. However, there have been some instances of leviathans interacting with humanity. Most famous amongst these is the 2454 M.V. Qishlah incident, in which a kilometer-long leviathan prevented the Qishlah from sinking following a swamping by holding it out of the water. The leviathan disappeared back below the chemical waves of the Aemaqii Sea as soon as the Qishlah was able to move under its own power, and has not been officially seen since. However, sailors in the region near where the Qishlah nearly sunk report that they sometimes feel as if a large presence is following them from below the water.

Demographics

Due to the strict immigration controls of the Republic of Elyra the vast majority of Aemaq’s population consists of humans of Elyran origin or descent, with immigrant humans forming a small minority. The largest non-human population group is Elyran-produced IPCs of both the free and owned variety. Positronics have long been a part of life on Aemaq due to the hazardous environment of the planet itself and the need for quick reflexes in its sea scoops, both of which have naturally lent positronics a valuable niche in the planet’s economy. The few off-world humans that are citizens of Aemaq are most typically residents of its many orbital stations, some of which were not built with artificial gravity.

The non-Elyran human population on Aemaq is, like its counterparts residing upon other Elyran worlds, generally worse-off than its native Elyran counterpart. They typically serve in low-income, low-skill, and dangerous positions in the many chemical plants and refineries in the planet’s floating cities, with few enjoying the benefits that the chemical industry brings to the rest of Elyra. Many of these immigrant laborers come from planets recently conquered by the nearby Empire of Dominia, long the regional rival of the Republic. With no home to return to, and other refuges— such as the Coalition of Colonies and Republic of Biesel— they are far away, so many view their dirty, dangerous lives on Aemaq as the best they can have for now.

Economics

The beating heart of the Aemaqii economy is its chemical industry (often sarcastically referred to as the "water industry" by many locals), with upwards of two-thirds of the planet’s current population working in the chemical industry itself or in an adjacent industry. As a result of its massive workforce and readily-available supplies in the planet’s vast seas, the Aemaqii chemical industry provides an overwhelming majority of the greater Republic’s chemicals, including some utilized in the field of applied phoronics. As a result of this Elco, the Republic’s native phoron corporation, has invested heavily into the Aemaqii chemical industry and controls a great number of chemical plants on the planet, with many of Nuzhied’s chemical plants either partially or completely owned by the corporation. OEI maintains many facilities on the planet due to its close involvement with the magpulse technologies that keep the planet’s cities from falling into Aemaq’s highly-caustic seas, while additionally operating chemical research facilities alongside Elco in order to improve its own products. Many Aemaqii citizens joke that it is a matter of when – rather than if – a resident of Aemaq will work for OEI or Elco due to the dominance both corporations have over the planetary economy. Jewel Aerospace maintains a small presence on the planet itself and a larger presence orbitally, where it continues to operate and maintain the majority of the remaining sea scoop fleet it once pioneered.

The economic stratification and income inequality that has come to define much of the Republic following the phoron boom, withnative Elyrans on top, migrants and immigrants far below them, is present on Aemaq and most visible in its massive chemical industry. While Elyrans and positronics are most often found in well-paying positions of authority in Elco chemical plants, OEI facilities, and the rare non-affiliated chemical factory, their migrant counterparts are often instead regulated to the dirtiest and most dangerous positions in Aemaq’s chemical industry. Low wages, long hours, and hazardous conditions make these positions undesirable for all but the most desperate Elyrans, which has led to many migrant laborers being hired into them. A significant amount of these workers are refugees from the recent conquests of the Empire of Dominia with no better place to go than Aemaq, and some in the Republic’s political scene have called on Elco and OEI to review their hiring practices and working conditions for this population. However, most in the Republic do not concern themselves with such. The chemicals provided are too valuable and the migrants are far cheaper than industrial-grade positronics, many of which must be imported from outside of the Republic’s borders and face steep tariffs and taxes.

While most of Aemaq’s economy is dominated by Elyra’s native corporations, one interstellar megacoporation has managed to secure a small slice of the planet’s economy for itself: Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals. The biotech giant has established a small, state-sponsored research operation in Sahina in order to research Aemaq’s leviathans and any potential medical benefits that they may have. Zeng-Hu’s operation has remained small and mostly unsuccessful thanks to its size, the ongoing phoron shortage, and the Elyran government’s close supervision of foreign megacorporations operating outside of New Suez’s special economic zone. The ineffectual nature of Zeng-Hu’s operations on Aemaq has seen it converted into a kind of corporate dumping ground where those in the keiretsu that underperform— or displease the ever-stringent CEO, Doctor Hsiao-Li— are sent to have their careers shrivel away into nothingness. Rumors in the keiretsu that the current supervisor of Zeng-Hu’s operations on the planet, Doctor Hei-Ryung Gok, was personally banished by Hsiao-Li for her failure to contain a specimen outbreak in a facility on Europa have long persisted despite the Aemaq branches’ attempts to deny them.

Culture

While many planets in the Orion Spur have long since moved on from humanity’s maritime past due to the ease and significantly greater profitability of modern space travel the cities of Aemaq, which live and die on the bounty of the planet’s vast chemical seas, have retained a distinctly maritime culture. The traditional Elyran attitude of respecting the natural order of things and emphasizing peacefulness that has descended from Elyran Revolutionary Thought can be seen across the cities of Aemaq, and these traits are perhaps most readily present in Aemaq’s political culture. Most Aemaqii are unwilling to rock the (metaphorical) boat politically, and the planet has long been a stronghold of the Republican Revolutionary Society. The Aemaqii tendency to vote RSS can be traced to Elyra’s valuing of loyalty, as many on Aemaq see the RSS,!which pushed for and funded the research that created modern Aemaq’s cities, as the reason why Aemaq as it is now known currently exists. The planet’s positronic vote, like many other locations in Elyra, is currently split between the RSS and League of United Republicans (LUR). A recent effort by pro-RSS Elco executives to employ positronic veterans of the Lii’dra Incursion in the Aemaqii chemical industry— particularly its remaining sea scoops— may see the positronic vote decisively shift in favor of the Constitutionalists in the upcoming election cycle.

In contrast to the more conservative Elyran planets, namely Bursa and Damascus II, and their more liberal counterparts, namely Persepolis and New Suez, Aemaq stands roughly in the middle of Elyra’s spectrum of cultural conservatism. Aemaqii Elyrans eschew some of their fellow Elyran’s more religiously-inclined traditions but retain a heavy emphasis on the traditional values of loyalty and community. This has helped contribute to the continued dominance of the Aemaqii economy by the “Big Three” Elyran corporations of the planet: Elco, OEI, and Jewel Aerospace. Upon coming of age, the vast majority of Aemaqii will begin either a university education or apprenticeship sponsored by one of these three corporations and typically work for their sponsor corporation for their entire adult lives. Employees that leave one of Aemaq’s Big Three on anything other than the best terms will often find themselves blacklisted by the other two until they make amends with their previous employer, which has contributed to a small though steady trickle of ex-Big Three Aemaqii traveling off-world to seek alternative employment far from home, with some choosing to settle on Biesel after exhausting domestic options.

Clothing on Aemaq tends to be thicker and heavier than most other planets in the Republic of Elyra as a result of its unpredictable climate. Some clothing is made using the aquatic “fur” of a non-leviathan sea fauna referred to as a sumaik-furwi typically found in the northern seas that is often kept as a form of aquatic livestock. The sumaik-furwi can be shaved of its “fur” safely as long as it is released into hotter water afterwards, which has led to a remarkably sustainable product that has come to be desired across the Republic of Elyra and beyond.

While the supersonic sea scoop jets powered by both rocket boosters and atmospheric turbojets are slowly being phased out for widespread chemical-gathering usage due to their expense of operation and the presence of functional cities on the surface, some have managed to find another commercial field on Aemaq: racing. These sea scoops have since been rebranded and retrofitted as high-end civilian sportscraft and racers, though they have maintained the distinctive nickname of sea scoop due to the origins of the sport in the pilots that were employed to scoop chemicals from the jets. Various floating cities on Aemaq field their own teams, and racing is a common pastime that ultimately culminates in the Aemaq Grand Prix, a competition between the best teams to see who can perform a chosen course the fastest. Though official races proceed with one jet running the course at a time for safety, informal one-on-one races where both pilots compete to see who is the fastest while running a course at the same time are not unheard of.

Major Floating Cities

Rumaidair is the capital of Aemaq and its most populated floating city. It is the first settlement ever established over the surface of Aemaq’s seas, and its residents are typically proud of this fact. While Rumaidair drifts freely, it tends to favor the central seas of the planet due to their comparatively hospitable climate. The planet’s largest university, the Rumaidair Municipal University, an institute renowned for its chemists and biologists, is found here. RMU’s primary sponsor is Elco, which maintains significant investments in the capital. Many of the university’s graduates go on to work for the corporation following their graduation. The city’s sea scoop team is called the Rumaidair Leviathans, and their colors are green and white.

Nuzhied is the second largest city on Aemaq and one of the earlier settlements on it. While the city serves as a major chemical producer, it also functions as the center of Aemaqii fashion due to its position on the northern seas of the planet. More sumaik-furwi can be found in Nuzhied and its surrounding waters than anywhere else on the planet, which has resulted in a significant textile industry. Nuzhied’s textile exports are still surpassed by its chemical industry in terms of raw GDP, but OEI has managed to carve out a profitable niche market in the city by selling industrial-grade electronic machinery to its textile mills. Nuzhied’s sea scoop team is, appropriately, called the Fighting Sumaiks. The team’s colors are purple and blue, the same colors often found on clothing produced here.

Kulat is the third largest floating city on Aemaq. Located near the southern pole of the planet, its population has swollen in recent years with the discovery of richer chemical concentrations deeper than the surface level in its surrounding waters. While it is unknown why chemicals tend to concentrate towards lower levels of water near the southern pole, it is known that the “veins” of chemicals are extremely rich and well worth the risk. Due to the risks and foolhardiness locals associate with “going deep” on Aemaq, many of its chemical hunters tend to be foreigners or recent arrivals. Its sea scoop team is called the Kulat Albatrosses, and their colors are brown and white.

Sahina is an atypical floating city located midway between the equator and southern pole. It does not have great chemical reserves, but it does have an extraordinary amount of leviathans in its surrounding waters. This floating city was the site of the M.V. Qishlah incident of 2454, and the floating city has developed a kind of quiet appreciation for the leviathans in the years since. Conflict has arisen in the years since between the city’s population and the researchers (and tourists) that have come to study leviathans in the years since the M.V. Qishlah incident. Due to their odd habits surrounding the leviathans, the citizens of Sahina are often looked upon as superstitious by other Aemaqians. Zeng-Hu’s floundering research operation is located in Sahina, which has caused some amount of tension with the local population. The city’s sea scoop team is the Sahina Seahawks, and their colors are violet and black. These colors have sparked controversy in recent years due to their ability to blend in with Aemaq’s chemical seas, and a debate regarding a change in team colors is currently underway.