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Planetside The Escalation Wars


 Alien Races 


Planetside
Last Updated April 20, 2005

Chouka Theocracy

Background

The Chouka are a race of methane breathing creatures that are best described as a bizarre amphibian like creature. They are bipedal and quite tall, though their bodies lack mass and appear frail and weak, which is for the most part true. Their wrinkled skin ranges from dark reds to light pinks in color. The most notable physical feature of the Chouka is their odd gill structures that are set atop their heads. Most races find the rhythmic convulsions of their gill structure both offensive and distracting, but the Chouka have never really cared what others, let alone aliens, think of their appearance. Their eyes are also quite large and afford the Chouka excellent night vision, a side effect of coming from a very dark, overcast world.

Intermediary Period

The Chouka were unified by their religious institutions’ spiritual unification in the Earth year 1483. Before this time, internecine wars directed by the heads of planetary religious institutions plagued Chouka. The constant chaos strangled the emerging industrial revolution, an event that had been threatening to begin for over seventy years. Following the unification, the Chouka people joined together in a never before heard of solidarity that allowed them to continue work on future technological and social development.

In the early days of this new, unified planetary order, the coalition of religious institutions formed only the foundation from which order sprung. Small city-states gave way to larger republics, leagues, and empire. All of these new political entities operated under mutual goals while asserting a great degree of sovereignty. Disputes between nations were handled by the religious coalition, the authority acting as a neutral party in such cases. Usually this could be further from the truth, but the decisions of the coalition were more often than not respected.

With industrial, technological, and social progress developing at a fast rate, the Chouka experienced a renaissance of culture, art, and philosophy that had not been enjoyed since the heyday of the first city-states.

Middle Period

As the power of the religious coalition grew its’ members became more corrupt and lusted for even greater power. Many clerics at the head of the individual religious orders desired greater control over the affairs within their religious domain. The desire for more power and more control eventually led to the individual coalition members attempting to dominate or undermine first local governments and cities and later entire nations. Many in the coalition abhorred the acts of their fellows and denounced their actions, but their warnings fell on deaf ears. Most nations did not view the wise elders of the coalition as subversive or power-hungry and thus ignored such warnings to the contrary. Those that did take heed of the warning often saw themselves overrun and conquered by their neighbors, who themselves were acting as proxies of the coalition.

By 1620, the last of the independent nations on Chouka had either been absorbed through peaceful annexation or taken brutally through wars of religious succession. Commonly such conflicts began with proclamations declaring of their leaders heretics and claiming that they had turned against their religion and their people. Deadly inquisitions followed, almost always with the support of the proletariat population. This period of history is known as the Middle Period and would play a central role in the development of modern Chouka culture.

The first Circle of Elders met at the religious shrine of El’ham’za’mell in the year 1649. The ancient shrine dated back some two thousand years to a religion lost to the annals of time. It had become common practice, however, to make a pilgrimage to the site, and the clerics attending and organizing the council hoped to use the aura of majesty surrounding El’ham’za’mell to lend credibility to their new world order. There the Circle of Elders formed the Chouka Theocracy and set plans in motion would change the future of Chouka forever while ensuring their own personal power.

The first to pay the price of the Circle’s ascension to power were those few dissenters among their ranks who had taken their message to the people over the previous decades. Most were discredited, some simply killed. A great purge swept Chouka, with the followers of the now alienated religions of which the dissenters were a part paying the price for their leaders’ political views.

Years, decades, and centuries passed. The height of civilization experienced during the Intermediary Period was now mostly forgotten. Much of the technological innovations of the era had also been lost. Some were lost due to the widespread destruction of the wars of the time, but just as many were destroyed by decree of the Circle of Elders. Most of the devices and inventions destroyed were those the Circle viewed as a threat to their control over the population.
New technologies continued to be discovered, though always in the name of ‘spiritual and morale’ enlightenment rather than technological development for its own sake. Such religious propaganda was even associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction. For a time nuclear weapons were even prayed to as the fruition of god’s fury. The Circle would later condemn this as an act of heresy when it became obvious that the people were beginning to put more trust in technology rather than the Theocracy itself – something that the elders had tried to avoid at all costs.
Each new generation of clerics used their power to further their own lofty ambitions, wasting great amounts of government money and resources on their own pet projects and vices. None of the general population knew what happened behind the closed doors of the citadels of the Theocracy. The air of mystery that pervaded the government did not bother them; however, as they were assured that the institution had their best intentions at heart. This blind faith in their religious leaders for guidance, in many ways harking back to the people’s belief in the coalition, allowed the Theocracy to maintain a submissive population.

The Modern Period

In 1890, the first Chouka ships left the planetary shipyard to complete surveys of their home system. Within four decades their first exploration vessel was constructed and had been sent to chart nearby stars. Exploration for exploration’s sake didn’t appeal to the Chouka, and the program was cut short when it became obvious that moving people off of Chouka to be colonists on new worlds would be ultimately self-defeating. The Theocracy ruled by application of force and intimidation and if too many should migrate to other worlds in other star systems it would become impossible to monitor the entire populace and weed out troublemakers in order to prevent future dissension. Initial colonization was limited to only a few small outposts in the home system, a religious retreat in the nearby Mishtuki system, and a string of small outposts in the Breth system. Draconian population controls instituted by the Circle helped to limit the colonial populations in Breth to only about ten thousand colonists while population growth on Mishtuki VII was already limited by the hostile environment and did not necessitate any other population controls.

The Chouka continued their technological progression slowly and stoically. By 1950, the Chouka Theocracy had entered into formal relations with the neighboring ak-Tai, Ukal, Th’sook, Novon, and Ypssii. For their part the Chouka remained aloof, maintaining an ambivalent attitude towards their neighbors. Although the Chouka maintained embassies on most of the alien worlds in the sector, very rarely was an ambassador or his staff ever present. Trade with the aliens was slight, as the Theocracy had little of use to export and had little want for imports.

Isolationism had always been the Theocracy’s way of dealing with outsiders. That policy was only strengthened when certain segments of the population began attributing the problems of Chouka to alien manipulation and influences.

Exploration of new systems waned over the course of years until only a handful of explorer vessels remained in service. The expense of maintaining even a moderate exploratory program was taxing the stagnating Chouka economy. The Chouka Theocracy had already managed to carve out a small empire for itself and fielded a respectable navy to defend it. Very few of its neighbors were found to be aggressive (the Sshel’ath being a notable exception) and most seemed just as content as the Chouka to simply maintain their boundaries. The Circle continued operations of a few explorer ships but had no intentions of moving farther into space.

Then came contact with the Circasians, an even that would ultimately lead to the Circasian/Chouka War (or simply the Chouka War, as the Circasians often refer to it) and the ultimate fall of the Chouka Theocracy. The conflagration lasted more than two years, and ended with the Chouka utterly devastated. Their secondary colony had been captured, and their other holdings captured or destroyed by opportunists on the fringes. Their homeworld suffered massive casualties under orbital bombardment before finally surrendering. The Chouka Theocracy fell in 1973.

Following the war, the Chouka were slowly integrated into the Circasian Empire. The Circasians made no pretenses at fairness or equality for the conquered Chouka, publicly referring to them as slaves of the Empire and simply resources to be applied for their own reward and benefit.

For its part Chouka was a model conquered population. The few guerilla forces on the planet had been quickly located and terminated shortly after the Circasian occupation force’s deployment and all organized resistance was eliminated within two years. The Chouka rebuilt what they could with what funds they were allowed. The Church was decimated but not dismantled, a puppet Circle instead being installed to serve the will of the Circasians and manipulate the Chouka people. Those that had previously held any positions of power within the Church were executed by Circasian authorities in their homes and on the streets. The Circasians, again, made no pretense towards justice.

For the Chouka people, the memory of the years directly following the Circasian invasion of their homeworld slowly faded as their lives as normal resumed. Life underneath the Circasian Empire was really no different than that under the Theocracy. They were forced to work just as hard and the Circle remained visible, always espousing their beliefs and handing down morale judgments. The fact that the Circasians did not attempt to curtail Chouka religious freedom is probably one of the most important reasons that the Chouka people did not react with greater hostility towards the occupation.

The Chouka would be the last of the races to break away from the Circasian Empire during the Escalation Wars, and the Battle of Chouka would signal the death knell of the Circasian’s empire. Following the war, Chouka was not only economically but ecologically devastated. However, the Chouka continued on, though even more isolationistic than before.




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