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Moon(s): Merik Zor
Development level: Moderate
Capital: Valburim Citadel
Population (Planetside): 4,170,000,000 (approx.)
Merik Reuir is an ore-rich planet and the officially recognized home of the Gwix species. The surface of the planet is home to many deep pools of sulfur and caustic water and the terrain is perpetually pelted by acid rain. Hundreds of years of pollution from Gwix industry have adversely affected the already harsh living conditions of Merik Reuir, and as such most cities are subterranean where they can more effectively avoid the dangerous surface level climate. Gwix cities are connected via high-speed trains that run through mined out tunnels. They are construct almost like an ant hill, with each major metropolitan area a collection of large cavernous chambers connected by drilled tunnels. The Gwix subsist entirely on edible mushrooms and other fungi that grow in the damp, dark wet conditions of Merik Reuir's underground, though high born do get to partake of exotic imported foodstuffs.
The rocky, corrosive surface of Merik Reuir is interspersed with towering industrial chimneys that billow plumes of noxious smoke. Gwix cities are extremely well ventilated owing to their focus on heavy industry, and are tiered in such a way that low born live deeper in the caves while high born Gwix enjoy pristine climate controlled structures properly shielded from the harsh conditions of their homeworld. Access to space ports is heavily restricted and only high born are typically afforded the opportunity to travel off Merik Reuir, except when menial works are required for off-world colonies. Mining tunnels curve like snakes away from major cities where low born Gwix toil away in the dirt and grime, expected to bring back their fair share of ore before being given another supply allotment.
Scholars believe that at one point Merik Reuir was a vibrant ocean planet but at some point it was hit by a large meteorite. This knocked the planet off of its previous orbit and brought it closer to the Angoria system's star, Gerwan. This catastrophic impact, coupled with the drying of the oceans helped contribute to its status as a toxic wasteland, leaving the majority of native live to thrive underground. Occasionally mining operations on Merik Reuir's surface will discover fossils of long extinct species that once called its oceans their home, and it is a prime scientific destination for Rokhandans looking for an interesting subject to write their thesis on, whether they be biologists, geologists, or paleontologists.
Gwixian society is closely tied to the six corporations that make up the Onk Conglomerate. These companies can trace their roots back to massive tribes of Gwix that eventually grew to eclipse individual identities. However, these 'families' are only such in name. The high born members of Gwix society only really look out for themselves and other high born, leaving their low born cousins to toil away, subject to a lifetime of indentured servitude. Inheritance law is a prime example of power staying in the hands of a select few - when a CEO of one of the Big Six has to retire or is about to die, they typically appoint their oldest child to fill their role. They, in turn, appoint individuals to the board of directors for their company as necessary, keeping the business in the family, as it were.
One's status as low born or high born is solely dependent on how closely related they are to the ruling family; if one can trace their lineage back to the very first tribe elder, they are typically one of the most revered high born. The farther that family tree strays, the less value is placed on an individual, and when your lineage is totally unrelated to that family you are guaranteed to have low born status. In this way, someone who had their great great great great great great great cousin thrice removed be a part of the prestigious Metalmaker family tree will have more favor placed on them than an unrelated Gwix.
The way that the system favors old names and leaves young, low born Gwix at a disadvantage has resulted in a mass emigration of able-bodied workers looking to make a name for themselves in the galaxy at large. While draconian laws prevent low born on Merik Reuir from, many young Gwix were carted off world to work on mining colonies or space stations. These Gwix had easier access to off-world transportation, and now the Conglomerate faces an economic crisis of its own making. As its young workforce evaporates leaving older Gwix behind who are unwilling to take up these menial jobs, coupled with the negative effects of their wartime profiteering during the Succession War, the one booming economy the Conglomerate was known for has entered a recession.
The gwix religion is an example of dualistic theism. It is their belief that all of existence is made possible by a stalemate between the forces of order, TOK, and chaos, TAL.
The goddess Tok is associated with currency, industry, the drive to build and create art. Her temples are beautiful edifices of marble and gold, and in more recent times, chrome and glass. Depictions of the goddess portray her as a gwix of modest stature with golden skin and a knowing smirk, often carrying a stack of coins arranged into a tower in the palm of her hand.
The god Tal is associated with war, devastation, the endless march of entropy and the fickleness of fate. In keeping with a god of destruction, he has no vast cathedrals or soaring temples. Impromptu shrines made of wood or clay have a tendency to crop up in abandoned lots or decaying buildings, but most gwix choose instead to honor him with deeds. Tal is depicted in religious iconography as an immensely large male gwix with rust-red skin and a perpetual disapproving scowl, dragging a wooden club that leaves furrows through the soil in his wake.
Neither deity is considered good or evil in the sense that most other faiths understand the terms. Gwix feel a constant need to grow, to expand their territory, their market shares, and their families. When there is no more room to grow, chaos makes room. Bubbles burst, share values fall, family members die. While there is little doubt that the times of boom are most enjoyable, it is understood that the inevitable bust is quite necessary on the whole. "Little wheels must spin so that the machine can turn," as the saying goes.
Visitors to Onk space could easily be forgiven for seeing the megachurches of Tok in the financial districts and thinking that the gwix worship just one god. Many more mistakenly perceive Tal to be some sort of devil figure, a symbol of evil and barbarism. However, both of these views fundamentally misunderstand the roles that both deities play in the hearts and minds of the faithful. To the gwix, it is only somewhere in between these two vast forces that they can truly thrive, which plays a factor in their tendency to favor death worlds as the locations for their glimmering new cities. After all, when you start at the bottom, there's nowhere to go but up.