Nestled within the New Ankara system is the crown jewel of the Serene Republic of Elyra: the capital planet of Persepolis. The most populous planet in the Republic by far with 15 billion residents, the planet has cutting-edge technology and is exceedingly prosperous thanks to the Republic’s phoron industry. The arid planet is remarkably hospitable due to intensive terraforming efforts undertaken by the Sol Alliance before the planet’s initial colonization. This gave the planet a habitable atmosphere and an environment Earth-like enough for comfortable human habitation, with much of its pre-terraforming flora and fauna surviving to the current day. 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, and is the planet’s largest source of employment and industry. These deposits are primarily managed by the government of the Republic or Elyran companies, rather than massive interstellar megacorporations, which has brought the Republic into conflict with entities such as NanoTrasen in the past. 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. It is sometimes referred to as the technological capital of humanity by its residents as a result. It 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 second 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 but at the cost of many native species, which thrived in the weaker atmospheric conditions of pre-colonization Persepolis. Regardless, 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. 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 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 their Earthbound counterparts, with some notable differences, such as a greater amount of precipitation annually. However, the deserts of Elyra have one 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.
While it is most well-known for its entertainment industry and artistic exports, the vast majority of Persepolis’ wealth comes from the planet’s primary employer: Elco, the Republic of Elyra’s state-owned phoron corporation. Elco’s status as a government company has long given it a monopoly over the planet’s phoron industry, which has given it a stunning share of Persepolis’ today gross domestic product . Most Elyran residents of the planet are employed either directly by Elco or by a company adjacent to the corporation, with a minority employed in its avionics sector, primarily via Jewel Aerospace, or in various tertiary industries, some of which are associated with tourism and the New Ankaran Jewel.
Life on Persepolis
For Elyran citizens, the 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 it. 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 Elyrans throughout the Republic can all be traced back to the laboratories and institutes of Persepolis. 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 that provides easy transport into orbit. Hover-vehicles are the premier method of transit to get around. Persepolis— the Serene Republic of Elyra, more generally— it attracts people from all across the Orion Spur due to its splendor, though many immigrants to the planet find that life for them is radically different than that of their fully Elyran counterparts.
Non-Citizen Persons living on Persepolis often find themselves at a disadvantage compared to their Elyran counterparts, while typically working worse jobs and have less access to the wonders that the planet is well-known for. These immigrant laborers make up the majority of the laborers employed to work in planet’s phoron fields— where a single misplaced spark can spell the end of a mining vehicle and its crew. They are often passed over for higher-level positions in favor of native Elyrans due to the greater trust placed in them by the government-owned companies in charge of phoron mining and refining. These non-Elyrans see little of the benefits brought by Persepolis’ phoron and are often denied opportunities to participate in wider Elyran society, with very few non-Elyran workers on Persepolis living outside of designated foreign quarters or worker housing projects.
Society and Culture
Socially, Persepolis is perhaps the most liberal of Elyra’s worlds due to its cosmopolitan nature and connections to the wider Orion Spur. While its local culture still follows the wider societal and social trends of the Republic, particularly its reverence for the status quo, which most on the planet revel in, the planet has a reputation for playing faster and more loosely with some traditions. The most obvious break from traditional Elyran norms is Persepolian fashion, which shows far more skin than average while making use of Elyra’s traditionally rich colours. Many theorize that this more liberal fashion outlook comes from the planet’s close relationship with Venus through its entertainment industry, and more conservative politicians have been known to rail against the immorality of Persepolis’ fashion industry to gain support.
The extreme wealth and prosperity of the planet has led to a lifestyle based around perfection and leisure, with the average Elyran resident of Persepolis able to live easier through the use of technology. Many Elyrans focus their free time or entire careers towards the production of cultural works and art, though Persepolis tends to focus more on social arts such as films than Medina. Many artists that start on Medina eventually make their home on Persepolis despite this difference due to the greater prestige often associated with working on Persepolis. Films are a common export of Persepolis to the point of 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, but the relationship between Persepolis and Venus is well-known with many directors from each visiting the other and cross-border cooperation remaining common until the Solarian Collapse of 2462.
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 QQs, 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.
Uthma is the planetary capital of Persepolis and the administrative center of the entire Republic of Elyra. 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 part of the planetary capital of Uthma. However, this massive structure is arguably a city unto 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. With transport to and from levels of the Jewel, and the skyscrapers surrounding it, 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.
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 hover technology and other marvels, and it 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 they 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. It has 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 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, since it is the city’s prominent rallying scene for racing wheeled vehicles.