“It's easier to teach a rock to do a somersault than convince a Zio'Aeni that they are in the wrong.”
- - A common saying pertaining to the Zio'Aenies
The Zio'Aenies are a race of semi-reptilian humanoids originating from the planet of Zio'Nis within the Unknown Regions of Cyrannus Galaxy. While often considered to be a people of brutal savages, among those who have recognized the potential that their warrior culture has granted them, Zio'Aenies are held in high regard for their martial prowess and are sought-after soldiers and bodyguards. In fact, their entire lives are ingrained into their martial traditions and any divergence from them is viewed with vehement distaste. A species that has only recently begun its entry into Cyrannian politics, they maintain substantial ties to the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus, and many of the less sedentary members of their species have found the prospect of moving further from their home territory appealing.
Much of Zio'Aeni history remains obscure due to the Zio'Aenies themselves being exceptionally reluctant in sharing any of it, coupled with most of it being available only in oral form and thus untrustworthy at best. What is known of the more modern histories of the species is that they have been active spacefarers for barely a century; their territory encompassing a set of planets controlled by self-governing clans that together form a loose union. The Zio'Aeni clans found little use in expanding without an absolute need to do so, employing an approach that allowed for further colonization only when a new clan would emerge among the Zio'Aeni populace. This was done in order to avoid massive scale planetary conflicts between the multiple clans vying for supremacy, and while it was noted to have been able to limit the size of such conflicts, clan wars were still a common sight among the Zio'Aenies; something which also served to limit their ability to enter into conflict with weaker neighboring species despite the obvious warlike tendencies of their people.
In 11 BNE, a small group of scientists, archeologists, and other scholars took part in an expedition into the Unknown Regions in hopes of charting these territories for future travelers and studying the dizzying amounts of new alien life yet to be found there. Unfortunately for the scholars involved, upon entering the heart of Zio'Aeni controlled space and landing on Zio'Nis, the expedition was attacked and subsequently killed in its entirety by the Zio'Aeni natives. Two months later, the expedition's shuttle - to the populace only known to have disappeared without a trace alongside its owners - returned to Orbispira, but this time piloted by a lone Zio'Aeni warrior. The warrior made his way to the highest point he could find and then proceeded to chant verse after verse in his native language while also holding the severed head of one of the members of the expedition. This was found out at a later date to have been the warrior honoring the fallen scientist, who had apparently won his respect, in his people's own way; retelling the other party's last moments to their 'clan'.
While the warrior was shot by law enforcement upon the former's refusal to comply with their demands - mostly due to not understanding Basic - and the territory that the expedition had last studied being deemed too dangerous to enter in fear of further riling up these odd aliens, the people of Orbispira who had been present at the scene remained feeling concerned over the existence of such a hostile alien species on the fringes of the galaxy. It wasn't until the formation of the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus that these concerns were acted upon, when, in order to alleviate the general concern rising among the populace coinciding with the rise of the Empire, its leadership decided to deal with the potential threat posed by the Zio'Aenies; whether they were brought to heel or eliminated entirely. For this task, Admiral Vastæ Scaeva was chosen, whose famed decisiveness was considered a necessity for what was required.
As Scaeva's fleet entered Zio'Aeni controlled space, conflict within these territories ensued between the Empire and the Zio'Aeni clans. However, despite the Empire's clear technological advantage, this conflict became a drawn-out war on multiple fronts, as the imperial forces found themselves woefully unprepared against the Zio'Aenies' superiority in planetside combat; a fact made inescapable by the Zio'Aenies' strategic insistence to remain entrenched on their planets and not seeking to directly confront their superior enemy in its preferred element. Realizing that a change in approach was necessary to counteract this stagnancy in the Empire's war effort, Scaeva took to searching for possible sympathizers from within the Zio'Aenies' clan structure. While her initial investigations showed little success, she did eventually find a promising ally in Kathur'Easri, the respected, yet opportunistic warlord of a generation ago established clan. This alliance proved itself to have been worthwhile to the Empire, as shortly after agreeing to Scaeva's deal, Kathur organized a meeting between the Zio'Aeni warlords during which he invoked the ancient Law of ; in accordance to which, during times of turmoil the unified warlords are to vote on a leader from among them. After a long period of debate and duels, Kathur emerged as the victor from among his peers and was given the dictatorial position of Krathfad.
Allowing for a period of calm after his ascension to power, during which he continued to remain in direct communication with Scaeva, Kathur eventually declared to his subordinate warlords that the war was over but that the turmoil would continue, as the clans would require a single voice to represent them in the wider galaxy. Begrudgingly agreeing to lay down their arms, the warlords nonetheless remained loyal to Kathur despite his obvious ties to the enemy, as he had honorably won his position and not with help from his invader allies. As entailed by the deal made between Kathur and Scaeva, the Zio'Aeni clans and their territory were to be considered now a part of the Empire but were allowed to remain a separate semi-autonomous state under the leadership of Kathur, the Zio'Aeni Hegemony.
Evolving into the apex predator on Zio'Nis and standing as one of Cyrannus' most physically able species, the Zio'Aenies are also one of its most imposing in terms of appearance; featuring scaly black skin with red markings, four slitted eyes, and loosely moving crests protruding from the sides of their heads. Additionally, Zio'Aenies are remarkably flexible digitigrades that possess prehensile feet, allowing them to use their feet to grip onto objects with relative ease. Their hands are also arranged in a way that hints at an evolutionary history as a quadrupedal lifeform - a way of life that they sometimes fall back on when required. Notably, they also have wide-reaching potency with Essence, with nearly two-thirds of the entire Zio'Aeni population possessing access to manipulate these energies. However, due to the structure of their culture, these powers aren't customarily allowed to be used outside exceptionally limited instances; typically involved in spiritual proceedings, and therefore held sacred.
Behaviour and PsychologyEdit
Seen by most of the galactic community as a brutal warrior race, the Zio'Aenies encountered across the galaxy can be in many situations exceptionally combative, and even outright hostile. Most of this stems from the training that Zio'Aeni warriors go through, with aspiring young warrior men and women continuously fighting each other to prove who is the strongest, and taught to view anyone as potential competition. This is typically considered to be among the scientific community a vestigial habit from the time when the Zio'Aenies competed with each other for a chance at mating. Nevertheless, despite the hostility that they tend to give off, Zio'Aeni society values honor to great lengths and each individual is expected to uphold such behavior; in both within Zio'Aeni circles and beyond. Sedentary and dedicated to tradition almost to a fault, the usual Zio'Aeni worldview places immense importance on following the established order. This adherence to order has made them some of the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus' most loyal subjects, even if some feel its influence to be a contaminating entity within their society.
Spirituality is also another important facet to the Zio'Aenies as a whole, with their main belief revolving around ancestral worship according to which individuals who die achieving great things become gods upon their death. In contrast to this, individuals who achieve greatness in life are seen as living gods, and therefore as someone lesser to their deceased counterparts - as they are still at risk of losing that greatness. As such, the common Zio'Aeni tends to be fatalistic and thus utterly convinced that they have to die a glorious death for their life to have even mattered in the first place. This has also given them a rather striking view of death and murder in general; the killing of another accomplished person is the greatest gift a warrior can offer.