Tetrarch

Pronunciation: TET-raark
Name of the people: Tetrarchii (sing. and pl.) (tet-RAARK-ee)

A desert planet between Marazion V and Zennor, this planet is sparsely populated and mainly serves as a refuelling point between the two planets, as well as supplying high-quality silicon for use in electronics. The living on Tetrarch is hard, dry and hot, and so the Tetrarchii have learned to make the most of what they have: scrap, and lots of it. When it was first discovered in 4868 Tetrarch’s natural resource – silica-rich sand – was largely ignored; instead it was used as a junkyard, with surrounding colonies dumping what they didn’t need or want on the planet and in its orbit. A couple of colonies made quite a tidy living out of scrap-running to and from Tetrarch, and gradually people began to inhabit it and sell the scrap on to those who would buy it. It took barely a decade for investors to see the golden opportunity in the sand beneath their feet, as the neighbouring colonies – particularly Marazion V – needed a nearby source of silicon, and the mines and factories were quickly built. However, the colony’s infrastructure is still in development, and as such beyond the work in mines and factories inhabitants have few resources and no luxuries, and they eke out a life among the dust, sand and exposure of the planet’s deserts.

Although much of the landscape has been cleared of the scrap dumped in the early days of the colonies, in some of the more arid deserts the skeletons of old ships, vehicles and machines can still be seen littering the barren places. Not a people to let things go to waste, the Tetrarchii use these to build what they need, from shelter and appliances to vehicles and tools. They see use in something that others would consider beyond use. They have built a few sprawling towns across the landscape, which exist almost solely to slake thirst and entertain. Lack of water on the planet means that fluids are usually imported, and it is easier for a traveler to obtain a cup of Ardheimian mead on Tetrarch than a cup of water. They are also likely to find in these towns a good number of gambling dens, pawn shops, bars, and places of questionable virtue.

The Tetrarchii favour practical clothing that leaves none of the body exposed. The planet can be exceedingly hot by day, and freezing at night, and when a sandstorm picks up it can choke. Full head coverings such as tagelmusts are common, often accompanied by protective goggles to keep the sand out of the eyes. The lower parts of the legs and arms are usually wrapped to keep sand out of trousers, shirts and boots, and hard-wearing materials such as leather are preferred – this, of course, is recycled from the scrapyards. To inhabitants of neighbouring colonies, the Tetrarchii look unkempt and dirty: many of them prefer to shave their hair completely or grow it into dreadlocks to avoid having to maintain it in their environment, and their clothing is scrappy, recycled, and worn.

As survival is uncertain on this planet, the Tetrarchii follow the rule of safety in numbers: being alone in the desert is an almost certain road to death. As such, they often live in small yet close-knit communes, which may or may not share blood-ties, where children are raised by all, everyday chores and work are shared by those who can undertake it, and skills are taught freely. Despite the hardships of life on this inhospitable planet, the Tetrarchii are generally a happy people, thankful for each day they are still alive, openly expressing joy and celebrating every juncture of life. After all, they’ve got people they can rely on, an open sky above them, and plenty of land to make their own. Rites of passage, such as namings, coming of age, and wisenings, are marked with a Gathering, and fires burn on those nights that can be seen for miles around.

The naturally hot environment has led to the immigration of tae’go to the colony, and it is almost certain that Tetrarch has the largest population of this species in the cluster. The tae’go live on friendly terms with the human Tetrarchii, and some communities have the two species co-existing, sharing life in the communes. The immigration of the tae’go has improved life for the humans there, as they have shared with them skills that have enabled them to find food and water even in the harshest desert climate.

Few Tetrarchii join the military, though with recent events the numbers are increasing. Some see it as a way to explore a wider world beyond the scrapyard, others send their wages back to their commune so they can improve their lives. As its population is so small, Tetrarch does not have its own military, so recruits join up on a neighbouring colony and are sent where needed.


Inspiration for characterisation: Mad Max, Tatooine (Star Wars), Tank Girl, the American Wild West, Burning Man, Nevada desert, Dune by Frank Herbert, Firefly.

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