Nestled within the New Ankara system is the crown jewel of the Serene Republic of Elyra: its capital planet of Persepolis. It is the most populous planet in the Republic by far with roughly fifteen billion citizens calling it home. On the cutting edge of technology and exceedingly prosperous, Persepolis is renowned both inside the Republic and outside of it for both its extreme technological prowess and its vibrant entertainment industries. The planet is remarkably hospitable, if arid, due to intensive terraforming efforts undertaken by the Sol Alliance before the planet’s initial colonization that gave the planet a habitable atmosphere and an environment Earthlike enough for comfortable human habitation. Much of Elyra’s pre-terraforming flora and fauna has survived to the current day, and now lives alongside imported Solarian flora and fauna. The planet’s vast deserts are home to some of the largest phoron deposits in the Orion Spur, which has contributed to the vast wealth of the Republic. These deposits are primarily managed by the government of the Republic or Elyran companies, rather than massive interstellar megacorporations. From orbit the planet is known for its incredible luster as a result of its large native forests, which take on an amethyst hue visible from orbit as a result of the soil in which they have come to thrive. Early photographs of the planet taken from orbit initially confused these trees for vast seas due to the massive sizes of the planet’s forests.
Uthma, the planetary capital - and capital of the greater Republic of Elyra - is one of the wealthiest and most prosperous locations in the Orion Spur alongside Mendell City thanks to the immense phoron reserves found on the planet, and is sometimes referred to as the technological capital of humanity by its residents. Appropriately for this title the city is home to some of the most advanced constructions in the Orion Spur, including the largest manmade structure found in the Orion Spur: the gargantuan New Ankaran Jewel space elevator. Uthma is also renowned throughout the Orion Spur for its thriving entertainment industry and cultural productions, which have contributed to tourism being an unexpectedly large industry.
As the first planet colonized in what would eventually become the Republic of Elyra, much of Persepolis’ history is tied into the greater history of the Republic as a whole. However, the planet itself has its own history unrelated to the greater Republic.
Originally discovered in the late 2100s, the New Ankara system was marked as a target for terraforming within mere years. New Ankara IV, which would later become known as Persepolis, was deemed a prime candidate for terraforming now being tested on the Martian surface. In 2210 terraforming efforts were formally started by the Sol Alliance (though primarily funded by countries from the Middle East and North Africa) with a tentative deadline of 2220. Work finished slightly ahead of schedule in 2219, and the planet’s colonization formally began the next year.
The planet rapidly became exceedingly wealthy due to a high amount of rare minerals, such as phoron (though its mining would not become widespread until the 2410s) and, by the mid-2300s, was able to support colonies of its own such as Medina and Aemaq. This prosperity has continued to build in the 2400s thanks to the rapid growth of the phoron industry on Persepolis, and the planet has come to be a center of wealth in the contemporary Orion Spur. The Persepolis of the present day attracts immigrants from across civilized space, and remains less dependent on megacorporations than other comparable planets due to its powerful (and wealthy) central government.
The environment of Persepolis can be divided into three major regions: the forests, the deserts, and the phoron fields. All three of these environments are arid and generally hot, though the forested regions receive more rainfall and are cooler than average. Terraforming efforts by the Sol Alliance in the years leading up to the planet’s colonization have made the environment more hospitable for humanity overall at the cost of many native species, which thrived in the weaker atmospheric conditions of pre-colonization Persepolis. However, many species have doggedly persisted despite terraforming.
The large, alien forests of Persepolis are home to a remarkably diverse section of flora and fauna, most of which is benign to humanity. Some of the larger predators here are regarded as dangerous if threatened, but injuries rarely occur due to the distance these animals keep from major settlements. The flora of the forests is particularly fascinating to researchers throughout the Orion Spur due to their unusual coloration and high adaptability to various soil types. The planet is often visited by researchers from the renowned botanical institutes of Silversun interested in studying the planet’s flora. Many regions of the planetary forests are considered to be planetary reserve parks by the Republic of Elyra, and human development in them without government permission is disallowed. These reserve parks are a large source of tourism for the planet, though Persepolis’ city life attracts more visitors. Many of the planet’s fifteen billion residents live in the arboreal zones of Persepolis, despite the utter lack of significant phoron deposits in this region.
The deserts of Persepolis dominate the geography of the planet, forming the majority of its land. These deserts are vast and rocky environments similar to the Earthling counterparts, with some notable differences such as a greater amount of precipitation annually. However the deserts of Elyra have one very, very important thing that separates them from the deserts of Earth: vast phoron deposits often referred to as “phoron dunes” can be found scattered throughout the deserts. The name “dunes” is, technically, a misnomer resulting from the misconceptions of the original surveyors: the phoron deposits on Elyra’s surface naturally form into crystalline formations rather than traditional dunes. While some of these crystalline formations can be quite large, most instead hug the ground and instead extend downwards rather than upwards. Areas of Elyra’s deserts that feature large amounts of phoron in the soil are known to be nearly devoid of plant life with only rare animals making their home in the dunes. Xenobiological surveys have concluded that phoron poisons the soil it resides in, leading to a lack of plant life and - eventually - desertification due to erosion. Areas without large phoron deposits display more ecological diversity and often instead resemble an environment more akin to a savannah. Most of the desert-dwelling population can be found in these savannah regions, where major settlements such as Uthma and its New Ankaran Jewel space elevator can be found.
Life on Persepolis
Quality of life on Persepolis is one of the highest in the Orion Spur due to both the wealth that the phoron industry has brought to the planet and the technology that has resulted from the industry itself. Technological marvels thought to be nearly impossible a century ago such as anti-gravity hover technology, plasma, and high-end virtual reality that has become commonplace for everyday Elyrans throughout the Republic can all be traced back to the laboratories and institutes of Persepolis. These once-impossible marvels have become commonplace on Persepolis, and are viewed as a fact of everyday life. Massive skyscrapers shoot out of the ground and spiral their way miles into the air, space travel is cheaper than ever thanks to the New Ankaran Jewel - the Orion Spur’s largest space elevator - providing easy transport into orbit, hover-vehicles are the premier method of transit, and so much more. Persepolis - and the Serene Republic of Elyra more generally - attracts people from all across the Orion Spur due its splendor, and the population of Persepolis is remarkably diverse: its residents originate from all across the Orion Spur.
While life on Persepolis is one of luxury, some areas are not without their hardships, particularly for those such as the employees of the government-owned Elyran Interstellar Phoron Corporation (often simply referred to as “EIPC”) and others that spend much of their time in the phoron dunes of the planet. While much of their work is done remotely, work in the phoron fields requires somebody to remain in the harshest, hottest, most barren environment on the planet for extended periods of time - often up to three months before one is rotated off of the fields. The harsh environment, coupled with distance from most other residents of the planet, has been known to inflict intense bouts of loneliness upon workers sometimes referred to as “phoron sorrows” or “phoron blues.”
Society and Culture
Society in the cities of Persepolis is certainly not a Spartan one. The extreme wealth and prosperity of the planet has led to a lifestyle that some, in other areas of the Orion Spur, might describe as excessive. The incredible opulence of the Republic has led to a society that is based around perfection and leisure due to the ease with which the average citizen of Persepolis is able to live their life through the use of technology. Daily life for many residents of Persepolis is focused around the production of cultural works and art, though Persepolis tends to focus more on social arts such as films than Medina. Films are a common export of Persepolis, with its industry having a known rivalry with the Cytherean film studios of Venus. Whether or not Persepolis’ smaller film industry surpasses (or even comes close to) the quality of Venus is a matter of intense debate amongst film critics and fans throughout the Orion Spur.
Despite this bitter rivalry, Elyran holovids - often taking the form of episodic series rather than singular films - have become massively popular throughout the Orion Spur, with many of their iconic characters appearing in merchandise throughout civilized space. The famous Quu Trifective, or QQ’s, originated on Persepolis and have since become famous throughout the Orion Spur. Their likelinesses, particularly Mychau, are used throughout the planet to advertise various products, sometimes in giant holograms promoting the latest trends on the planet and in the greater Republic.
Many artists that start on Medina eventually make their home on Persepolis, due to the greater prestige often associated with working on the capital planet of the Republic of Elyra.
A center of culture on Persepolis is, perhaps surprisingly, the New Ankaran Jewel. Located in the planetary capital of Uthma, the Jewel is the Orion Spur’s largest space elevator by far and houses significant residential and commercial facilities. With transport to and from levels of the Jewel, and the skyscrapers surrounding it, extremely easy due to the prevalence of hover technology, many have come to call it their home - including some of the planet’s best artists. The Elyran News Network, the official public service broadcaster of the Republic, is located in one of the middle levels of the Jewel, and its famous backdrop is a view of the Uthma skyline from their studio.
Uthma is the planetary capital of Persepolis and the administrative center of the entire Republic of Elyra more generally. Located near the equator in a savannah-like desert region, Uthma’s climate is extremely hospitable, with the weather being quite comfortable at all times of the year. The first city established after the planet’s colonization, the centuries since have seen Uthma grow into one of the most prominent cities in the Orion Spur thanks to the planet’s phoron deposits and technological advances. The city has the most advanced VR centers ever constructed by humanity and is, like most Elyran cities, entirely designed for transportation via hover-vehicles rather than traditional vehicles. As a result, Uthma is a city that is designed more vertically than horizontally - a trait made no more obvious than in its massive space elevator: the New Ankaran Jewel. The Elyran National Institute of Phoron Sciences, the largest phoron-researching organization outside of NanoTrasen, is located in the city.
The New Ankaran Jewel is, nominally, part of the planetary capital of Uthma. However, this massive structure is arguably a city onto its own, though one that has been constructed vertically rather than horizontally. The Jewel is both a result of the planet’s immense wealth and a reason for its increasing prosperity, as it was originally constructed as a method to cheaply and efficiently move resources from the surface to low-Persepolis orbit and was only possible due to the immense profits brought into the New Ankara system by phoron. In the years since its construction, the Jewel has made transit to and from the surface even easier and has come to be a significant population center due to the residential and commercial wings built into its massive structure. A significant amount of the planet’s entertainment industry has come to find its way into the tower, with many artists often competing to secure a spot in the Jewel.
Ashkhaimi is a city in the forested regions of Persepolis well-known for its verdant surroundings and institutes of biology. The city is home to many of the institutes of science that have helped to produce Elyran hove technology and other marvels, and features a significant military proving grounds on its outskirts where the first practical plasma weapons were developed. The forests of Ashkhaimi are a significant tourist attraction for residents of Persepolis looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and also manage to attract visitors from off-world. The forests are often commonly used as a shooting location by the film studios of Uthma, due to their unique flora and fauna.
Madinat Omraia is a settlement dedicated to phoron mining and processing located on the edge of the desert’s phoron fields. Despite a smaller population of permanent residents than other cities on Persepolis, due to the nature of phoron mining in the deep deserts necessitating the rotation of mining crews every three months. Despite this small population it remains prominent due to its significant phoron production and, unexpectedly, the racing circuits in the dunes around it. Madinat Omraia is one of the few locations in the Republic of Elyra where wheeled vehicles can be found among the civilian population, due to the city’s prominent rallying scene desiring wheeled vehicles for racing.