Hertha is an Earth-like planet located 300 years semi-light (50% speed of light) flight from Earth. This is where The Torch entered fixed orbit almost 1000 E-years ago, and the nearly 200,000 souls aboard transferred to the ground. It is now home to just under 1 billion humans.
Hertha differs from Earth in many ways. Its skies are generally amethyst rather than azure. The seas are purple from the reflection and from the proliferation of a particular species of algae. Rivers and lakes tend to be a muddy brown. Clear water is rare.
Hertha has one large continent (think Africa and Asia combined) on one face of the planet. There are hills, but the only mountains are those that surround the mysterious crater in Brock prefecture.
Hertha was once covered shore to shore in multicolored forests of spiral-limbed trees, the most famous being the Golden Forest of Mercia, for which the Dominion’s capitol, Kinnomori, was named.
Population: about 500 million
Mercia is the most populous of the Herthan prefectures. It is seat to the Shadow Sovereign, in Kinnomori City. The prefecture was once covered in a golden forest, but only pockets of that forest now remain as public recreation and camping areas. There are numerous towns and suburbs, and two more major cities besides Kinnomori: Alabaster and Twin Light.
Population: about 350 million
Population: about 210 million
Population: about 145 million
Population: about 110 million
Population: about 75 million
Population: about 45 million
Population: about 22 million
Population: about 9 million
Population: about 5 million
Population: about 2 million
Brock sucks. Nobody lives in Brock. Except the people of the Valley, whom nobody knows about … other than Hiroaki Yeo.
The Herthan Dominion has been Hertha’s unifying government since landfall, over 1000 E-years ago. The structure of the government was created on The Torch, and debated and adjusted throughout the journey and generations.
The Dominion is essentially a constitutional monarchy, with a Sovereign at its head. For the last millennium, the Sovereign has been the Shadow Sovereign. The Constitution was drafted on The Torch and has never been updated or amended.
There is a parliament consisting of Representatives from the various Prefectures. There is one Representative per each 500,000 people, and their districts are adjusted regularly with the growth and change of the population.
Representatives are voted in by citizens bearing Aequalis. Any Aequalis-bearing citizen is eligible for nomination as a representative.
Constitutionally, each Prefecture is entitled to its own Militia, to defend from each other’s aggressions. However, if the Militias rise against the central government, the Dominion Army serves to protect the integrity of the state. The Militias are not permitted Golem forces, or nuclear weaponry. If the Militias obtain or develop this technology, it is the Dominion Army’s right to eliminate the threat by any means necessary.
The Optimal Imperative
Incepted in 318H (it is now 1079H). The Imperative is a program enacted in the name of the Shadow Sovereign. Its goal is to eradicate racial disparity, genetic disorders, and mental illness through controlled breeding.
Only Aequalis-bearing citizens are legally sanctioned to produce offspring. Earning Aequalis is a serious proposition. One must be physically and mentally sound, as well as prove one’s value to society.
Within Dominion cities and suburbs, most of the water is treated with male birth control. If a male wishes to father a child, he must procure the antidote from a government facility. He can only do so if he has earned Aequalis.
The Optimal Imperative initially encouraged mixing of people of different races, and over time a phenotypic standard developed. It emphasized reduction of racial features, and a generally homogenized expression of physical characteristics. Extreme outliers are called “Primals” or, derogatorily, “throwbacks”.
The Imperative is the backbone of Dominion society, and most citizens believe strongly in its merit and benificence to society.
Family and Relationships
The Dominion, despite its austere policies, is a sex-positive society. Monogamy is atypical, and exists primarily in the High Families.
It is not unusual for a family to consist of one parent. Frequently, parents will choose to create a child together due to Optimal conditions. They may or may not stay together to raise the child, and may or may not have whatever relationships they please on the side. Contracts are generally drawn up to ensure the child is well cared for. Children born from love do happen, but they have become increasingly rare over the years.
Same sex relationships are largely unremarkable in Dominion society. Most individuals have had relationships outside of the heterosexual domain. There is some holdover of derision, but it is mild. It usually has to do with calling out the fact that the relationship cannot advance the Imperative. There is no persecution or risk of violence. Hardly anyone has room to point fingers.
However, in the High Families, monogamy is the rule, and homosexuality is all but forbidden.
The High Families
The High Families are descended from the premier families who were recruited for the Torch project. These families included prominent engineers, architects, agricultural barons, scientists, and other roles vital to societal infrastructure.
The High Families entered the Torch rich, and made Landfall rich because their skills were immediately needed.
While Torch passengers were make up of people from all across the world, the High Families were recruited primarily from the founding nations of Ireland and Japan. There are several factions of High Families but the main two are the Seanachie families (Ireland) and the Daruma families (Japan).
The High Families almost all rejected the Optimal Imperative, preferring to keep their ancestral blood alive and its phenotype strong. The government adapted to accept the payment of “Sacrifice” to bypass the phenotypic requirements of Aequalis. Many people on Hertha consider this to be a corrupt practice.
The Shadow City
Designed based on the Forbidden City in ancient China, the Shadow City is located in the heart of Kinnomori City. In the center is a massive ziggurat, and it is said that the Shadow Sovereign is located at the top. The Shadow City is populated by the only cyborgs in the whole of Hertha. The Shadow Sovereign controls these cyborgs, as well as other robotics, to maintain itself. Raw materials are delivered to receiving bays, and the cyborgs bring them inside. No human is allowed inside the walls, and not one has set foot inside since the Shadow City was built.
The Shadow Sovereign’s decrees are delivered by a specific cyborg, called the Harbinger. These decrees are brought to the Parliament to pass into law.
It has been roughly 400 E-years since the Shadow Sovereign has issued a decree.
It has been roughly 250 E-years since the Shadow Sovereign has made its presence known. The general populace nonetheless assumes ShadSo is pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The Crime of Flight
Upon Landfall, the Shadow Sovereign decreed that mankind never again shall travel the skies. It makes the world too small, and war too terrible. Time should be taken to cross land and peoples. Flight, and the research of flight, are strictly forbidden within the Dominion.
The Shadow Sovereign cited the ancient bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the quick and devastating movement of ground troops, as reasons to forbid this technology. According to the Shadow Sovereign, the dawn of flight was the beginning of Earth’s downfall.
High speed trains developed within cities, but in keeping with the spirit of slow cross-country transit, trains have not been connected across the whole continent.