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|Leader(s)||Dyhianna Selei (Ruby Pharaoh) and
Barcala Tikal (First Councilor)
Skolians are in a permanent near-war state with their enemy, the Eubians, who rule a much bigger star-spanning empire called the Eubian Concord. Eubians (often also referred to as Traders, due to their flourishing slave trade) have stronger military and dispose of greater resources. Skolians, though weaker, balance this out by usage of their faster-than-light interstellar communication network called psiberweb, which gives them an important advantage and is the only obstacle that prevents the Eubians from conquering Skolia.
Another player on the interstellar stage are the Allieds, the smallest of the three empires, centered on Earth. They act in a strictly neutral way to both Eubians and Skolians and support the solution of their neighbour's conflicts by political, rather than military means.
Today's Skolian Empire is an egalitarian society, but the original Ruby Empire has been a matriarchy and remnants of this still remain in Skolian culture. Although it is now not uncommon for men to hold an influential position, many important ranks in Skolian politics and military are still occupied by women. Lots of people, especially members of the noble houses, still consider men as the "weaker gender".
The Skolian Imperialate is ruled partly by the Assembly, an elected parliament; and by the Ruby Dynasty, a hereditary monarchy. According to traditional Skolian political theory the ruling body is absolute, therefore the Assembly is Sovereign. All powers of the Imperator and the Pharaoh are theoretically derived from the Assembly, including their right to vote within the Assembly. In actuality the Imperator, and the Pharaoh have power because they are necessary to the continued existence of the Imperialate, and in the case of the Pharaoh traditional loyalty to the Ruby Dynasty queen. This makes the Assembly's power far from absolute.
The Assembly consists of thousands of delegates, who represent the many worlds of the Imperialate. The number of votes held by delegates depends on the size of the population of the planet that elected them and also on their status within the Assembly. The largest block of votes belongs to the First Councilor, who is leader of the Assembly. The next largest blocks are held by Councilors of the Inner Circle and by Skolian Imperator and Ruby Pharaoh. All Skolian noble houses have hereditary seats in the Assembly but only the Ruby Dynasty and the House of Majda have blocs of votes with considerable influence.
There are five main political parties within the Assembly:
- the Royalists want royalty to rule the empire, instead of the elected parliament
- the Traditionalists would prefer to return to matriarchy and seclude men into harems
- the Progressives promote modernization and major changes in society
- the Technologists urge technological improvements
- the Moderates are the largest and most influential group, trying to balance out the other four
The Inner Circle consists of elected Councilors representing different ministries of the Skolian government: Industry, Life, Finance, Intelligence, Judiciary, Stars, Planetary Development, Domestic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Protocol and Nature. The Foreign Affairs Councillor is Roca Skolia.
Besides the Assembly, two important titles in Skolian government are held by members of the Ruby Dynasty.
Ruby Pharaoh is the hereditary title of a reigning monarch. It dates back to the ancient Ruby Empire that was ruled by powerful warrior queens. When the modern Skolian Empire was founded, the title of Ruby Pharaoh was resurrected, yet this time the power of a Pharaoh is not absolute any more. An elected Assembly governs, with the Pharaoh being mainly the titular head of the empire, though she holds an important bloc of votes in the Assembly. The role of the Pharaoh is also associated with the Triad title of Assembly Key, though both positions don't have to be necessarily joined together. There have been only two Skolian Pharaohs so far – Lahaylia Selei, the founder of the Imperialate and her daughter Dyhianna, who is the current Pharaoh. The heirs to the throne are Dyhiannas sons, first Taquinil, then Althor, with her younger sister Roca being next in line.
The title of Imperator is associated with army, the Imperator being the supreme commander of all Skolian military forces. This title is also hereditary but the Imperator can choose a successor from among several suitable candidates. If a member of the Ruby Dynasty cannot assume this title for some reason, then the person who is currently next in command of the military becomes Imperator. To do the job well, to its full extent, the Imperator also has to be the Military Key in the Triad, as the commander must be able to co-ordinate the military forces with an amount of speed only allowed by using the psiberweb. The Skolian Imperators so far have been Jarac Skolia, Kurj Skolia, Sauscony Valdoria Skolia, General Naaj Majda and Kelric Valdoria Skolia who presently holds the title.
The Skolian Empire traces its roots to six thousand years ago, when an unknown race took humans from Earth and resettled them on a planet called Raylicon. Then the unknown race disappeared, leaving only parts of their technology behind. The humans on Raylicon used this technology to develop space travel. They founded the Ruby Empire and colonized hundreds of planets. But the empire collapsed, and many worlds were left isolated for thousands of years. Gradually, the empire was rebuilt, and approximately 400 years ago, the Raylicans re-developed space travel.
The Raylicans also rediscovered the Locks, devices that have allowed advanced telepaths to establish the interstellar network called the Kyle Web or psiberweb, which can be used by others. Thus, the Rhon project was developed to develop genetically the necessary neurochemistry to power the Locks. The unintended result of the Rhon project, however, was the creation of Aristos, a race of anti-empaths, whose brains interpret pain of others (especially of psions) as pleasure, which turned them into sadists.
This result led to the birth of two competing interstellar empires – Eubian Concord (founded by Aristos) and Skolian Empire – founded by Lahaylia Selei, progenitor of the modern Ruby Dynasty, a family of Rhon telepaths who currently co-rule the Skolian Imperialate and power and maintain the Kyle Web.
Important Skolian worlds
- Parthonia – seat of the Skolian government where Assembly meetings take place.
- Metropoli – most heavily populated planet in the Imperialate.
- Diesha – seat of the Jagernaut military academy and of ISC.
- Lyshriol – homeworld of the Valdoria branch of the Ruby Dynasty.
- Orbiter – space habitat, home of the Ruby Pharaoh and a place where one of the three Locks is located.
- Onyx platform – a complex of space stations designed to defend the Third Lock. Onyx was destroyed during the Radiance War and the Lock was captured by Traders.
- Raylicon – birthplace of the Ruby Empire, location of the First Lock.
The collection of Skolian armed forces is called Imperial Space Command, or ISC. The commander-in-chief of all ISC forces is the Imperator of Skolia.
The ISC has four divisions:
- J-Force – analogous to air force, consists of Jag fighters and their Jagernaut pilots
- Advance Services Corps – scouts planets
- Pharaoh's Army – the oldest branch with a 5000-year history traced back to the beginning of the Ruby Empire, concentrates mainly on planetary war conflicts
- Imperial Fleet – originated in the navy on Raylicon, now it dominates the space division of ISC
The main centers of ISC are the space habitat Orbiter with its War Room, Triad Chair and Lock, the Onyx Platform protecting the Third Lock and the planet Diesha, which serves as the ISC headquarters and seat of the Dieshan Military Academy.
Evolving Intelligence, also known as EI, is the term given to sophisticated computer systems, similar to what is commonly known as Artificial Intelligence, or AI, but with more capabilities, such as complex learning algorithm and personality routines. EIs are used for example in starships or as administrators of computer systems in a house or complex of buildings.
In interstellar travel, Skolians often make use of quasis, which is a form of quantum-shielding that freezes the quantum state of all particles on a spacecraft.
Ships in both the Skolian Empire and the Eubians are equipped with devices, controlled by EIs that shift a ship into "quasis" to avoid damage to the ship from weapons fire or from high-G maneuvers. The quasis prevents change in the quantum state of any particle, temporarily rendering the ship invulnerable. While in quasis, the quantum state of all the occupants of the ship also freezes causing the crew to experiences the quasis as a disjointed segment of time.
Each weapon strike against a ship in quasis weakens its quasis field. The novels describe an unspecified number of weapon hits (typically suggesting two to four) that will collapse a quasis field and re-animate the crew in the midst of a massive explosion. A collapse of a quasis field results in a rupture of the Klein bottles holding the anti-matter fuel used to power the ship, resulting in matter-antimatter explosions.
Age delaying treatments
Due to advanced nanotechnology, microscopic nanomeds can be put into peoples bodies to manage cell repair and delay aging. This enables the extension of a human lifespan to several centuries. People also keep a young appearance, as they stop visibly aging at the age of 30 – 40. It is important to start the treatments as early in life as possible. People who received those treatments in early childhood or before birth (passed on from mother to child during pregnancy) achieve the best results. The older a person is when receiving anti-aging treatments for the first time, the larger the possibility that they won't work that well.
In Skolian Empire, many people, most often in the military or administration, carry bio-implants. Most common are nodes in brain which are used mainly as extended memory to store useful data. Many people have also psiphon sockets in their spine, wrists and ankles, that enable them to lock into the psiberweb. People who suffer severe injuries and lose their limbs or eyes can get prosthetic ones.
The Skolian Imperialate consists of many worlds with hundreds or thousands of different languages. The language that was chosen as a common tongue is called Skolian Flag. People from the Ruby Dynasty and other noble houses speak a nearly extinct language called Iotic.