Aedolis [eye-DOH-lihs] is a country located primarily on Earth, and it is also the main player responsible for the Earth’s degradation. It has overtaken and controls much of the planet. Aedolis's government is stratocracy, in which the military and the government are one and the same. The military's political power is legitimized by both law and society.
There is no poverty, the people are paid well and encouraged to indulge themselves. Then there are the Pilots, Dragons, and The Network, those three marvelous elements which ensure the country’s safety, keep the water and power running, and maintain the protective electromagnetic domes that shelter the cities.
It can’t be all bad, right?
Not if you don’t mind giving up your basic humanity and freedoms, at least.
Aedolis is an empire that is interested in spreading its influence across the globe—and even into space. It has a history of conquering and absorbing other nations, and it is rumored that it has had its eye on Edanith for some time now, interested in the country's terraforming technology—the one thing that could possibly heal the planet.
A hedonistic and materialistic society, the government takes pains to make sure its people are content. As such, the cities are filled to the brim with diversions of all sorts ranging from virtual arcades, cyber cafes, and shopping malls to bars, brothels, and spas, and the pursuit of pleasure is fully encouraged. Drugs are legal and backed by the government, as are brothels (many of which are also spas), and citizens are encouraged to spend what credit they make on all manner of material goods. You will not find many prudes in Aedolis; sleeping around is not frowned upon, and is very much normal and expected.
Celebrities and pop idols are Aedolis’ gods, and media is its religion. Aedolians are kept largely complacent and uniformed about world affairs, though they are subjected to pro-Aedolis propaganda daily. Pilots and dragons are marketed as war heroes and celebrities.
While the pursuit of pleasure is encouraged, the pursuit of knowledge is discouraged, regarded as pointless, frivolous, and boring. Why stuff your head with useless facts when you could be surfing the Network or buying the latest game? And when everything is all about fun, who cares about that other stuff? This is the attitude the government loves for its people to have. It’s safe. As such, very few people actually get more than a basic education, most people read at a 3rd grade level, and only those in the upper caste, or those who opt to join the military, can receive higher education.
The restrictive nature of the country is reflective of the static nature of the caste system itself: citizens are born into their castes and stuck there for life, stuck not only because their birth determines their place but because they are also kept, physically, from moving any higher. Even if it were physically possible to move among the castes, socially...that would pose a problem. There are prejudices that exist between the castes, naturally. If you were born into the upper caste, received a good education, and had a good job working for the government would you really want to associate with, much less marry, a nigh illiterate sewage worker? Even reversing that, if you were a nigh illiterate sewage worker, would you really want to associate with one of those crazy bigwigs at the top that's making everyone else's life miserable?
These prejudices are encouraged by the government to keep the caste system working, for the system is just one way the government controls its people by limiting where they can live, what sorts of jobs they are eligible for, and by ensuring that those with different levels of education are kept separated. If the more educated higher castes were to mingle with the lower caste factory workers, they might also educate them, which could be dangerous. Thus, these prejudices are rather useful.
- Upper Caste
- The wealthiest caste. These citizens have access to the best education (second only to the education Pilots receive), the best jobs, and the best living conditions. Jobs include government jobs, military jobs, corporate positions, and entertainment. Technicians, scientists, and CEOs would all be upper caste. Upper caste citizens have access to all the best technology, housing, and diversions. Obviously they are the richest caste. The Citadel is located on the upper level with an expansive, decked out aerie for the dragons to use.
- Middle Caste
- The middle ground. It includes jobs like medics, secretary positions, architects, game programmers, whores, massage therapists, things like that. They receive a general education—basic math, language, and history courses. An assessment exam determines the trade school they will attend to focus on whatever line of work they tested into. They are the heart of Haviah. The ATC is located here, with access to both the top and bottom levels.
- Lower Caste
- The poorest caste. It includes all the undesirable jobs: janitors, sewage workers, factory workers and the like. Still, they are treated well and kept content with media and drugs, and though their homes are not as good as a Middle Caste citizen’s, they are comfortable. Citizens are kept dumbed down in the hopes that they won't protest too much; the only education they receive is that which allows them to do their job. But even if they did protest, there really isn't anywhere else for them to go; they are virtually trapped down there. Yet lower level citizens can gain a little freedom if they're smart by flying under the radar; Aedolis' surveillance cameras are not perfect down there.
- The only exceptions to the to the caste system are military and celebrities. Anyone can join the military and receive an education and make a good living and, in the process, move up through the castes. Celebrities are also born, not made. A lower caste citizen could make their way to the upper caste if the government recognized their talent and decided to invest in making a celebrity out of them. The government is always scouting for idols. Any citizen who can gather a following and catch the government’s eye could be promoted to celebrity-dom, which would also grant them Upper Caste status.
Aedolis’ society is, ultimately, one of absolute control and absolute power. The goal is for citizens to be kept under control by being kept perfectly happy, yet at the same time the activities of Aedolis’ citizens are carefully monitored. While citizens may possess computers and have access to the Virtual Communication Network (this game’s version of the internet), their access is restricted and certain channels, especially those that originate outside Aedolis, are blocked by Aedolis' own Network.
Citizens are not allowed to leave the country and they are also not allowed to possess weapons—which includes magic. If you are a mage, even if you’re just a simple healer, you are automatically drafted into the military because possessing such an ability outside of a controlled environment is simply viewed as far too dangerous. If you possess psychic skill, you are also automatically drafted, only in that case you end up in a very different military program: the Pilot Candidate Program.
Not all mages and psychics that are drafted actually get to serve. While being in the military has its benefits, including access to a higher education and more rights, benefits, and higher pay, the military is brutal. If a psychic breaks during their Pilot conditioning, the military no longer has a use for them and, more often than not, the broken psychic is quietly sold to TRIM. This same gruesome fate awaits any mages and psychics who prove too unruly and uncooperative, rebellious, or even harbor traitorous thoughts.
The currency in Aedolis is credit. Microchips are implanted in the right hand of all citizens at birth or, in the case of newer citizens, at the time that they receive their citizenship. This microchip contains all personal information relating to said citizen and it is only with this microchip that any and all purchases and transactions can be made. When a citizen receives their paycheck, the amount is automatically credited to their account. All of Aedolis runs on credit; without that microchip, you don’t get anything. It’s a person’s wallet, identification…everything.
Aedolis is a military dictatorship. The military is the government, and there is no better job in the country than to serve in the military. It provides the best benefits and freedoms, the highest pay, and the opportunity to receive a higher education. Anyone may join the military, though not many will do it by choice as it is regarded as harsh and corrupt. For those citizens with a thirst for power, it is the perfect venue.
At the top of the government are the Pilot/dragon teams. There are five Pilot/dragon ranks that form a hierarchy with the highest rank being Imperial, which is made up of a single Pilot/dragon pair. The other four ranks all have more Pilot/dragon teams in them, with the number increasing the further down the ladder you go. So after Imperial comes Royal, Noble, Echo, and finally Cardinal with the highest number of Pilot/dragon pairs.
While it may seem to the untrained eye that the Pilot is the one in control, it is truly the dragons that calls the shot. In fact, even the Imperial receives orders from the dragons, and the lowest ranking dragon is still higher ranked than the highest ranking Pilot. Dragons receive the same titles as their Pilots. That is to say, a Dragon whose Pilot is an Echo would also possess the rank of Echo. But even a Dragon Echo is higher ranked than the Pilot Imperial his or herself.
When addressed, Pilots are commonly addressed as Pilot + Last Name. For example, John Smith would be addressed as Pilot Smith. To get really fancy and respectful, one would address a Pilot by their full rank and name. For instance, instead of just Pilot Smith one would address him as Pilot Royal John Smith. It is proper to salute.
As a means of showing respect, civilians passing a Pilot by will often thank that Pilot for their service. A simple, "Thank you for your service," is customary.
Below the Pilot/dragon teams is the rest of the military, with the ranks following the usual hierarchical set up of Commander, General, etc. all the way down to the ground soldiers and new recruits. There are branches in the military dedicated to ground, air, sea, and space combat.
Aedolis boasts the largest standing army in the known universe, with officers and soldiers of all ranks and professions. They are stationed all throughout Aedolis as well as in space, working within Aedolis's growing fleet. They are outranked only by Pilots. Mages are especially valuable and while no mage can ever aspire to Pilot, as they simply cannot bond to a dragon, many mages possess skill sets that the government really desires.
Aedolis is what the once noble, ancient country of Adela became. Millenniums ago, Adela was an influential kingdom famed for its fierce, proud people and strong military. Their reputation as warriors was such that they likened themselves to dragons. It was an appropriate title given their affinity for the beasts and there was even a branch of their military that incorporated dragons and riders into it. They were a force to be feared--aggressive, intelligent, and ambitious--and they produced a long line of powerful leaders and ingenious military strategists.
While their military was powerful, Adela didn't go out of its way to pointlessly pillage other lands or needlessly throw its weight around. There were war campaigns here and there to expand its borders and acquire more influence, but it wasn’t necessarily a greedy or power-hungry country. It had a good relationship with a neighboring kingdom called Serendipity (whose people are now scattered among the allied Space Stations) and the two supported each other time and time again. If Serendipity was attacked, Adela sent in support and visa versa. There were shaky periods here and there due the two kingdoms' very different philosophies (Adela’s aggressive nature versus Serendipity’s peaceful one), but by and large the two countries supported each other.
As the years passed, that all began to change.
It wasn’t a sudden change, but a small rift formed between the two countries that started to grow deeper and wider with every passing decade. Technology began to advance and Adela (now Aedolis) hopped on the bandwagon, ever eager to be at the forefront of all new developments—especially military ones. Aedolis invested heavily in technology and even began to develop its own, and it used this new technology to expand. Their military grew with it and before long Aedolis was branching out and attacking neighboring countries for their resources and land. With so much power at hand, Aedolis needed an outlet for it. In other words, the country grew too powerful too quickly and became greedy as a result.
By then, Aedolis’ relationship with Serendipity had shattered, and it was crushed to powder when Aedolis attempted to conquer its once-ally. Serendipity tried to hold out against Aedolis but it eventually faced no other choice but to either leave Earth or be destroyed. They left.
Meanwhile, another country called Edanith, a country Serendipity and Aedolis had a long and bitter history with, remained to resist Aedolis. Technology-wise, Edanith and Aedolis were almost matched and Edanith managed to put up a good fight.
In the end, even Edanith fled to a gradually terraforming Mars, finding that the Earth was simply too ruined to be worth fighting for. The grudge still remains, though, and to this day Edanith and Aedolis wage an interplanetary cold war against each other.
In addition to conquering other countries and becoming the global superpower of Earth, Aedolis also succeeded in rendering the Earth nearly uninhabitable. In order to keep up with its increasing population, forests were cleared to make room for enormous cities, mountains mined for precious minerals and resources, fields drained of all their nutrients due to over-harvesting, rivers and oceans polluted from dumping toxic and radioactive wastes and byproducts into them, and the air polluted from all the factories and chemical. By the time Aedolis realized what it was doing, the Earth was spiraling towards destruction.
It was Aedolis’ dragons, those creatures that scientists had genetically engineered to create the perfect war machine, who made the country what it is today. They saved Aedolis from its demise and provided the country and its cities with safety and protection from the elements.
All they asked for in return was obedience--and they got it.