Aurelia is a distant world set in the genre of space-faring science fiction. It acts as a central hub for the Naumannite, a race led by their religion, and who lost their native home long ago. It is a harsh, icy world on which they have, for a century, done penance for a terrible crime they committed: wiping out the planet’s original inhabitants.
It was created during Episode 3.
The planet Aurelia is in a distant corner of its galaxy, far away from the more-traveled space lanes. The world is covered in ice and its surface is too inhospitable to support life. Within, however, it teems with life. Below the surface are hollow caverns, many of which are lined with crystals. There are a number of chambers that form patterns not unlike those found in geodes.
The planet’s surface is constantly wracked with storms, some of which have an electromagnetic quality to them. The planet itself is surrounded for most of the time by a natural ion shield that prevents transmissions or the use of teleportation technology. Every five years, however, Aurelia’s elliptical orbit brings it close to the sun, which causes the ion shield to be torn away and the planet’s surface to be burned. This period of scarring lasts for one month – during that time, a good portion of the ice melts and the planet is covered with a great deal of vapor. At the end of this period, the atmospheric elements that have been released cause the shield to be replenished.
The Naumannite are a tall, hairless race, with very long limbs and necks. They are very pale, with white skin and large, orb-like eyes that range from deep red to violet in color. They are somewhat sensitive to sound – this is reflected in much of their art and technology, which is often influenced by their deep appreciation of harmonics. Most favor simple clothes, usually consisting of a robe or cloak, though they do employ different-colored mantles to signify particular religious or social standings.
Centuries ago, a tragic event of which the race no longer speaks caused their original home planet of Naumann to be destroyed. Today, the entire race consists of only 150 million individuals, most of whom are scattered throughout the galaxy. While Aurelia is now the hub of their civilization, at any one time there are only 15 million Naumannites on the planet. It is part of their cultural mandate to keep a steady 10 percent of their population there, in accordance with religious obligations.
Naumannites reproduce asexually and are grouped in “pods,” families of 20 to 40 members. A pod of 20 will typically have six or seven adults and twelve or thirteen children. They can communicate with members of their own pods telepathically, and each is able to empathically sense the emotions of Naumannites outside of their pod. They are able to speak, but home life is fairly silent. Naumannites live to an average of 110 years. Most of those who are not born and raised on Aurelia are typically sent to the planet at around age 40.
While the race does possess teleportation technology, it is useless on Aurelia for most of the time. As a result, they use magnetic technology for much of their transportation needs.
In addition to the Naumannite, there are many different species of fauna on the planet. Among the more dangerous are creatures composed of a tar-like sludge that’s unaffected by sound waves. These beings are capable of extending segments of themselves out to act as tentacles that can draw victims in to be digested osmotically. Also of note are a number of creatures with crystalline skin, some of whom are very large and capable of burrowing through solid rock.Over a century ago, the planet was inhabited by the Cubane, a bipedal race who resembled large, crystalline insects. They have long since become extinct.
The Naumannite is a race in a perpetual state of penance. Their central government is a theocracy run from Prima, their capitol city, the largest settlement on Aurelia. The Naumannite have a complex relationship with the planet – they are its custodians, its venerators, its explorers and its prisoners – albeit voluntarily. Living in the planet’s often harsh environs is the task they are performing in an effort to receive absolution for a terrible crime they committed long ago – the crime of genocide.
About half of Aurelia’s occupants are permanent residents, who typically have their entire pods living with them. The other half are representatives from other Naumannite families across the galaxy. Each pod that lives off-world must select a member to come to Aurelia when the time comes. Those who are chosen spend ten years in training before they are permitted to leave. This is the minimum duration for their pod’s act of contrition.
Every five years, at the time when the ion shield is down, the Naumannite transfer approximately 3.5 million temporary residents via teleporter – those who are beginning their period of penance. At the same time, most of those who are ending their 10-year requirement leave.
Their society – and their religion – is governed by a High Augur, referred to as His Resonance. The High Augur and his staff are all permanent residents. Those visiting for their 10-year penance are often put into roles of peacekeeping and security. Life is harsh in the tunnels and penitents must often guard population centers from the world’s many threats. During their period of atonement, all young penitents must make pilgrimages through the tunnels and actively hunt down and dispose of dangerous creatures as a rite of passage.
Aurelia is the Naummenite holy land – believed to have been the place where their deity departed from the physical universe. As such, life on the planet is full of ceremony. Their scripture is read aloud, and close attention is paid to its pronunciation and tone. The Naumannite treat all rituals with a great reverence, and their education while on the planet is of utmost importance. By the end of their ten-year period of penance and training, most have become part of the holy orders. Performing penance is also the only way to gain rank in the church. On their departure, the new priests are usually become missionaries, with missions in various parts of the galaxy.
The Naumannite religion consists of four main sects. Of these, the two major sects clash most often.
The primary sect, representing the original religion, is the Way of Transcendence. Its members are referred to as Transcendants. Their core belief is that they must strive to live in both literal and figurative harmony with their surroundings. Sound is very important to the Naumannite. They search constantly for the proper sonic waves to bring them into sync with the rest of the universe. Of utmost importance is finding the wave that would bring them into harmony with Aurelia. They believe that if they achieve this harmony, they will be able to transcend the physical universe and follow their deity into the next reality. This sect is the oldest and the most accepted. Members of this sect are found most often in the city of Prima.
The members of the next largest sect are called the Scions of the Higher Octave. They arose largely as a reaction to the initial edict that was made nearly a century ago indicating that the penance on Aurelia must be performed. They consider themselves much more progressive than the Transcendants. They believe that to achieve harmony, they must not only look inward but outward as well, and adapt their surroundings to suit their needs. While the Transcendants do have greenhouses and other adaptations they’ve made to survive, the Scions go much further. It is this faction that is most interested in terraforming Aurelia – they feel they must do so to make it into the paradise their scripture says it must be. They believe that it is part of their penance to tame the world. The Scions are most often found in the city of Fusion, which is located much deeper in the tunnels than Prima.
There are two minor offshoots of the Transcendant sect. One is a group of zealots calling themselves the Harmonics. They take their religion further than the core beliefs would indicate. They believe that their penance will continue until their deity returns and personally ends it. The second is called, simply, Omega. The Omegans believe that their leaders, a group of holy individuals called the Coda, have already achieved a state of harmony. They believe it is time to end their penance and share their harmonious enlightenment with the rest of the galaxy. Some advocate bringing other races to Aurelia but most seek to travel out and spread the word.
The Naumannite race drifted homeless through the galaxy for a very long time after their world was destroyed. They were on a search for their holy land, a planet described in their sacred texts – a place that would be a gateway to their heaven.
Then they had a vision of a crystalline chamber – a harmonious place from which their deity departed the physical plane ages ago. Led by this vision, they searched until they found Aurelia – a planet about which everything seemed right. Its position seemed to match the place hinted at in their holy texts and its interior (once they figured out how to reach it) looked very much like the visions that had been received. Furthermore, its resonance seemed very close to that of their deity’s, as described in their traditions. Surely this was the holy place they sought.
There was no authority in this part of the galaxy to speak of so they had the right to claim the planet as their own, which they did. While the planet’s environment was harsh, they were soon able to use their sonic and magnetic technologies to adapt. The only intelligent life form they found on the planet were the Cubane, which at the time numbered barely one million (though it was not yet known that there had been that many). The creatures were very surprised to meet these newcomers, who treated them with a great deal of respect. The Cubane had never seen an alien life form before, and they welcomed the Naumannite with open arms.
At first, it seemed as though the Naumannite had found their Utopia. They regarded the Cubane, whose crystalline structure was reminiscent of descriptions of their deity, as angelic beings, direct servants of the god. The Cubane, the Naumannite felt, were going to guide them to the holiest of crystal chambers – the one from which their deity transcended his physical form.
But soon, the Cubane began to die. Their bodies began crumbling and shattering. The Naumannite probed the problem deeply with their sonic sensors, but that only seemed to increase the death rate. By the time the Naumannite realized that it was their own sound technology that was causing the Cubane to die out, it was too late. A chain reaction had begun, and within ten years, the Cubane were completely extinct. The Naumannite had unknowingly committed genocide.
This was the worst of all possible crimes. But yet, there were no galactic authorities to punish them. Even though it had been an accident, the Naumannite felt they had transgressed against their deity and lost his favor due to their arrogance and short-sightedness. The High Augur decided then that the whole race would do penance until such time as they came into harmony with Aurelia.
Even though this judgment was broadly accepted, there were those who were not completely happy with the new direction of the Transcendants. The penance was necessary for such a terrible crime, many felt, and would help ensure that such a thing would never happen again, but there were those who desired to continue shaping Aurelia to suit their needs, as did before the Cubane began to die out. These individuals felt that if they completely ceased all use of their technology, it would be a step backward and they’d never learn to use their advances responsibly.
Over the next two decades, this group became known as the Scions of the Higher Octave. They moved away from the Transcendants, journeying deep within the tunnels to find a place where they could start over. After this long pilgrimage, in a huge cavern on the opposite side of the planet they found the ruins of the Cubane’s former capital, its streets covered with a layer of crystal dust, which was all that was left of the previous occupants’ remains. The destructive sonic wave that had infected the Cubane years ago claimed many more lives than had been previously thought. To honor the fallen people, or so the Scions felt, a new city was founded on the old city’s ashes. The Scions named their new population Fusion City to express the idea of the two cultures growing together as crystals sometimes can, becoming as one.
In the years that followed, there was relative peace. Another, much smaller schism occurred within the Transcendants approximately 30 years after the first one. There was an occasion on which one of the ooze monsters roaming the caverns managed to breach Prima’s defenses and enter the city itself. It tore a great swath of destruction before they managed to stop it. In response, many felt that they had not been vigilant enough and that their deity was testing them. They formed a stricter, more zealous sect that dedicated nearly every aspect of their lives to reaching the harmony they sought. That somewhat militant order became known as the Harmonics.
Over the next few decades, tension built as the various sects’ ideologies grew further and further apart. After another thirty or so years, another new sect broke off from the Transcendants. This new group, the Omegans, decided that they’d reached their harmony. They demanded that they be allowed to leave the planet or bring outsiders in to study their ways.In the last few years, the conflicts between the sects have grown more heated. The Omegans in particular have been met with sharp resistance. As ever, though, the Naumennite remain a peaceful people, though some say that will soon change. As their first century on Aurelia has come and gone, the sects have generally been content to remain at a standoff, a “cold holy war,” if you will. There has been no violence yet, but it may not be long before blows are struck and their peace is shattered forever.