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Field Master Tulo 'Kotarqee, a Kaaranese Sangheili, during the Battle of Ares IV
Kaaranese Sangheili - Macto cognatus absconditus
Biological information
Homeworld

Ketesh

Physical description
Height

8'6

Distinctions

Sangheili ethnic group

Military and Political information
Ranks
  • Morhekan ethnic sub-group
  • Mopadan ethnic sub-group
  • Nartecan ethnic sub-group
  • Joralan ethnic sub-group
Affiliation

Covenant/Separatists

  [Source]


Compared to some species, such as humanity, the Sangheili have been a technologically advanced society for a considerable amount of time, expanding from their homeworld of Sanghelios relatively soon after acquiring interstellar travel capabilities, and making First Contact with the San'Shyuum in 938 B.C.E., leading to total war. It is easy to forget that, in the long run, their establishment of interstellar colonies is still only a recent occurrence in the 100,000 years since the Forerunners embarked upon their "Great Journey", and that for the most part the Sangheili remained as they were when they were archived - a primitive but robust warrior species, perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions of Sanghelios. It is therefore difficult to see how the Sangheili could have colonised a planet such as Ketesh thousands of years before they acquired slipspace technology, forgotten about the colony, and its inhabitants built up a society to rival that of Sanghelios itself.

The answer, of course, is that they didn't. Genetic studies of Sangheili mitochondrial DNA show that the Kaaranese split off from the main species much earlier - approximately 250,000 years ago, even before the activation of the Halo Array. Exactly how the Kaaranese reached Ketesh remains a mystery few feel confident in solving - even Kaaranese legend is extremely hazy on the subject, mentioning only that their ancestors were "guided" to their new home by "the Holy Light of the Gods wisdom" as they fled persecution, and known as the First Exodus of the Followers of Light. Exactly what they were fleeing is not stated - neither is how they reached Ketesh, when it would be another 99062 years until their Sanghelios ancestors would achieve interstellar travel themselves. What is known is that the Kaaranese Sangheili made this planet their home, and have branched out in almost every way possible, making it their own.

The Kaaranese were discovered by a routine missionary ship patrol in 2132, the discovery of a Sangheili world with no prior connection to Sanghelios or the Covenant sending ripples of shock and disconcertion throughout the upper echelons. The Sangheili military leaders, expecting a fierce resistance, prepared to conquer the planet with their military might. The Prophets, equally distressed at the thought of once again facing a hostile Sangheili world, poured their efforts into communicating and negotiating with them, hoping to prevent them from becoming a rallying point for anti-Prophet sentiment. Ultimately, both of these steps were unnecessary - Ketesh joined the Covenant as its most recent acquisition willingly, with only a few religious groups voicing resistance. Today, Kaaranese make up 15% of the Sangheili military personnel, with members in the upper echelons of the Covenant military. Though retaining a distinct and unique cultural flavour, Kaaranese have a fascination with Sanghelios culture, and the cultural influence of their brethren has become popular, replacing the older Qu'refran Architecture once common across the planet.

History

  • 250000 B.C.E.
    • Middangeard is abandoned by its inhabitants, leaving behind much of their civilisation intact - whatever calamity befell them remains unknown, but it left behind their cities and settlements relatively intact.
  • 100000 B.C.E.
    • Ketesh is sterilised of all sentient life, with samples returned to the planet to repopulate.
  • 90000 B.C.E.
    • The first evidence of Sangheili civilisation on Ketesh appears, on the eastern shores of Daaran, the northernmost continent.
    • The Teltaqan species disappears, with some evidence that it was a direct result of Sangheili aggression.
  • 40000 B.C.E.
    • The last holdout tribes of Lagkter disappear, apparently destroyed in reprisal raids by Sangheili.
  • 7000 B.C.E.
    • Rise and fall of the Farenwan Empire - covered by the sands of the Dushqun desert. Legends hold that it was destroyed by the wrath of the extinct Lagkter as vengeance.
  • 6000 B.C.E.
    • Rise and fall of the Prethgardan Republic. City-state was abandoned after plague, and later consumed by a sinkhole.
  • 6500 B.C.E.
    • Rise of the First Yuqurtz Empire.
  • 6400 B.C.E.
    • Rise of the Loqtai Empire.
  • 6150 B.C.E.
    • Yuqurtz Civil War - supported by the Loqtai Empire, civil war tears Yuqurtz apart. It is reformed as the Second Yuqurtz Empire
  • 5300 B.C.E.
    • Fall of the Yuqurtz Empire - military aggression with the Loqtai Empire sees Yuqurtz invaded and destroyed.
  • 4872 B.C.E.
    • Rise of the Keltash Empire. Its unique position and wealth lead to it become a dominant power in a short span of time.
  • 3611 B.C.E.
    • The Kranthaweh Valley secedes from the Keltash Empire, establishing itself as an independant state.
  • 3617 B.C.E.
    • The Keltash Empire defeats the Kranthawey Republic, reabsorbing the breakaway state.
  • 3212 B.C.E.
    • Contact is made between the Keltash Empire and the Olbertana Thalassocracy. Economic trade agreements are put into place, and to facilitate this Keltash begins to build a Navy, the first of its kind on the planet.
  • 1211 B.C.E.
    • The Keltash Empire invades Olbertana, incorporating its territory into its own.
  • 911 B.C.E.
    • First Keltash Civil War - the southern states attempt to break away, and are put down by the Keltash Army.
  • 812 B.C.E.
    • Discovery of the Keltash Relic.
  • 411 B.C.E.
    • Second Keltash Civil War - rather than territorial or political, the causes were religious - the relics, long a source of controversy, became the centre of a fierce religious conflict.
  • 400 B.C.E.
    • The Second Exodus - the eruption of Mount Keltam lays the Keltash Empire to waste, forcing the surviving Sangheili to flee to Kaaran, the southern continent. Numbering only a few hundred thousand, the Sangheili are threatened with extinction.
  • 70 B.C.E.
    • Though it is likely that the state had existed for some time, the first records indicate Pre-Morheka to exist by 70B.C.E., and are primarily concerned by the builtup to the Civil War.
  • 40 C.E.
    • The two ruling clans of Pre-Morheka, the Narteca and Mortec, engage in a bloody civil war, schisming the nation into two factions - the Narteca, supported by a number of the smaller clans, and the Mortec/Heka alliance, supported by the larger clans. The Narteca are ejected from the borders of Pre-Morheka, exiled to the south - later to found first Mopad, then Narteca proper after a second exile by their former allies.
  • 392 C.E.
    • Mopad declares war on Pre-Morheka, invading the nation and, after a protracted occupation, establishes the puppet monarchy of Elma 'Mopad.
  • 400 C.E.
    • "The Beggar," the rightful heir to the Pre-Morhekan throne, returns to claim his birthright. Elma is executed, along with collaborators, and the nation restores its independence, removing all Mopadan military forces.
  • 432 C.E.
    • "The Beggar" dies, leaving Morheka as his heir. Morheka's reign is remembered as the Golden Age of Morheka, and the nation was renamed in his honour.
  • 1234 C.E.
    • Setha 'Morhek is assassinated by Mopadan political rivals. The ensuing constitutional crisis leads to the assignment of the R'runu Warrior Creche as personal bodyguards and head of the royal security detail.
  • 2112 C.E.
    • With the conclusion of a devastating war between Morheka and Mopada and their respective military/political allies, the League of Unified Kaaranese Nations is created to encourage greater cooperation and prevent future wars from spilling over. A planetary armed forces is established to serve as mediators and peacekeepers.
  • 2122 C.E.
    • The Kig-yar operated Missionary Ship *Transcendent Unity makes an emergency slipspace exit, entering real space at random - accidentally stumbling upon Ketesh. It is shot down by the limited space defences present.
  • 2123 C.E.
    • The Fleet of Triumphant Declaration enters the system, carrying a San'Shyuum diplomatic negotiation party. Rather than face the fury of the Covenant, the Sangheili of Ketesh elect to become a member-state of the hegemony, formally recognising the Covenant's sovereignty and adopting their religious doctrines.
  • 2130 C.E.
    • The Prophets begin what is referred to by historians as "The Great Purge", utterly destroying the Cult of Quenyathar as an institution, deeming them secessionists and heretics, forcing their devotees to recant or flee to the inaccessible deserts. Their exile would continue until 2552 and the Great Schism, when they and their beliefs returned to Kaaranese society.
  • 2536 C.E.
    • The brother of Autocrat Utzha 'Morhek, Senator Othran 'Morhek, is assassined by Sanghelios mercenaries hired by Mopadan Senator Vela 'Sudark, who is killed later that year in a reprisal strike. The event inspires Qur'a 'Morhek to enlist the unit as a Covenant Special Operations lance, going on to serve with distinction.
  • 2552 C.E.
    • The outbreak of the Great Schism. The local Covenant garrison initially refuses to believe the rumours of Prophet betrayal and Jiralhanae genocida; campaigns, but as the Jiralhanae stationed there rebel, taking with them most loyal Unggoy, Kig-Yar and Yanme'e personnel, Ketesh is united in their opposition to the occupiers, with even Morheka and Mopada setting their differences aside for a few short months to stamp out the Jiralhanae and loyal Covenant. The Cult of Quenyathar is officially welcomed back into Kaaranese society, with temples and universities built by most nations in the hopes of returning them as the planet's dominant religion, encouraging scientific and philosophical learning centres.
  • 2553 C.E.
    • Morhekan Autocrat Qur'a 'Morhek is the first Morhekan Colonial representative of the League of Unified Kaaranese Nations to be approved with no objections raised by Mopada or its voting bloc. With his ascension to the office of the planet's leader, he pledges the allegiance of his people to the Sangheili Armed Forces.
  • 2555 C.E.
  • 2557 C.E.
    • The Battle of Ketesh rages. Despite a joint UNSC/SAF fleet destroying many of the attacking Blood Covenant ships, the Morhekan Orbital Shipyards are destroyed, denying the Sangheili a crucial advantage.
  • 2566 C.E.
    • The recommissioned Morhekan Orbital Shipyards is brought online, the first Sangheili facility built with Prophet assistance since before the Schism fourteen years ago, producing SAF and New Covenant warships for the war effort against the Governors of Contrition.


Prehistory

"There is a darkness in our past. We know not what threat we fled from, or how and why we did so, only that it was enough to drive us from whatever place we called home. Did we lose our knowledge of the Before-Time by accident, or was it too terrible to be remembered?"
―Thoth 'Keltam, The History of Keltash.
Image2

The builders of these structures hewed them straight from the stone. Such meticulous labours now stand empty, their creators long dead.

The earliest traces of civilisation on Ketesh date back far longer than the Kaaranese Sangheili have been present - the foundations for primitive towns have been found along the Daaran shorelines, indicating a coastal seafaring civilisation, and distinctly different signs of settlement have been found in the Dushqur desert, remnants of nomadic desert-dwellers. Though some things are known of these early inhabitants of Ketesh, most of their culture remains unknown, taken with them to the grave. What is known is that signs of their existence come to sudden and drastic halts - the seafarers disappear approximately 90,000 years ago, and though the nomads survived longer, no trace of them is found later than 40,000 years ago. The Sangheili newcomers seem to have swiftly and aggressively extirpated any competition, either through warfare (with spearheads and primitive blades discovered in digs along the Qu'refran Peninsula) or indirectly, through competition. Either way, the Sangheili settlers were left the dominant sentient species on Ketesh.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the Sangheili began their domination of the planet in earnest, since Ketesh's long history of climate instability seems to have produced a cycle where primitive tribes begin to gain ground, and then are wiped out. No less than seven large pre-Keltash cities have been discovered, each supporting populations of more than fifty thousand, each apparently wiped out by catastrophes of various types - coastal cities have been wiped out by floods and tidal waves, inland cities seem to have been susceptible to earthquakes, and the largest was struck by drought, forcing a massive outflux of inhabitants, leaving it deserted. The first permanent foothold the Sangheili made on Ketesh was on the Keltash Peninsula of the Daaran continent in 400BC, where they built up a significant empire with urban and agrarian regions spreading out through the continent, reaching a near-industrial level before the eruption of Mount Keltam. The eruption of the planets largest volcano would have disastrous effects on the Kaaranese Sangheili, destroying the Keltam empire, and leaving the survivors numbering only slightly more than a hundred thousand. The Second Exodus saw them forced to migrate across the tumultuous Straits of Joltan, eventually reaching the continent of Kaaran.

Pre-Covenant

London

"Archaic" Qu'refran Architecture has been largely abandoned, supplanted by the more "modern" Covenant styles imported to Ketesh.

Post-Exodus Kaaranese history is sketchy for a long time afterward, given the scarcity of written records and the difficulties faced in rebuilding their civilisation from the ground up. A discernable nation-state had emerged by 70 BC, and a bitter civil war was fought there in 40 BC between the Mortec and Nartec clans, resulting in the expulsion of the latter and their allies and the fusion of the Mortec and Heka clans into the modern Morheka. The exiles would establish their own stronghold to the south, eventually to become Mopada, and the Nartec clan was expelled from there again, forming their own nation in the inhospitable Nartecan wastelands. The original, meanwhile, would go through a number of phases - an interim council gave way to a rotating cycle of leaders, with the heads of each clan exchanging leadership through the generations, until its invasion by Mopad in 400 AD, when a puppet-government was set up under Elma 'Mopad. The subsequent popular rebellion against Mopad subjugation saw the rise in to prominence of the Morheka clan - though the last remaining heir of the Keltam clan regained his throne, Morheka the Great would inherit his throne, making it a permanent hereditary acquisition of his clan, creating the Morhekan Imperial Dynasty. While initially popular among other clans, corrupt or insane leaders who would otherwise have been rejected as fit to lead led the nation in directions that would have appalled even Morheka himself and various civil wars broke out. To the north, the Trinity of Light seceded, taking with it a significant portion of the empire's northern territory with them. The east fragmented into a number of autonomous regions, some at odds with each other, while the Mopadan Confederacy took the opportunity to attack the Morhekan southern border. Making a temporary alliance with the Trinity nations, helped by further Mopad incursions on Trinity territories and the kidnap and torture of Juno 'Joralan I, an alliance held its own against the Mopadan incursion, stabilising the region and forcing the Mopadans to react to their own uprisings and break-away states.

By the twenty-second century, the Kaaran continent was host to fourteen major nation-states, and fifty nine smaller autonomous regions, all loosely grouped together under the League of Unified Kaaran Nations, a council of leaders that facilitated communication and trade between allies, arbitrated disputes, and generally maintained the status quo. When Covenant missionary ships stumbled upon the planet in 2122, the Kaaranese League was thrown into disarray - the fact that an "alien" species had stumbled across their world was a major event and, in a fit of xenophobic paranoia, emergency military powers were granted to the League, with the military forces of the Kaaranese nations collated into the Ketesh Defence Force. When Covenant scouts returned to the system, they discovered a well-armed civilisation of Sangheili, determined to fend off any aggression.

Despite such a less-than-ideal First Contact, the incorporation of Ketesh was a relatively straightforward one. The discovery of Sanghelios kin fascinated the Ketesh inhabitants, and the arrival of San'Shyuum missionaries who "spread the good word" of the Great Journey, created ties between Ketesh and the Covenant, and it was with a nearly unanimous vote that the League agreed to become a member of the Covenant, donating its warriors to the Covenant military, trading with Covenant worlds, and in return benefiting from Covenant scientific knowledge, trade routes, and importation of Sanghelios culture and society.

Post-Covenant

Main article: The Kaaranese Upheaval
Upheaval

"The Day of Shame," by Sangheili artist Jora 'Tahotkelna, is the best known piece of artwork depicting The Kaaranese Upheaval.

Since the incorporation of Ketesh into the Covenant, the planet has undergone a renaissance, importing Covenant art and styles, styling itself after the most illustrious cities of Sanghelios, adopting the Covenant's religion almost universally with only a few holdouts. The majority of the planet's military forces have been incorporated into the main Covenant military forces, with regional authorities only allowed to retain a small security force for internal policing and self-defence. The balance of power has gradually drifted from military might to economic prosperity, an area where Morheka has a significant advantage, given its vast deposits of metals and minerals necessary for construction of Covenant warships. The Morhekan Orbital Shipyards are some of the most advanced in the Covenant, building new ships and refitting old or damaged ones, and have earned a reputation for efficiency.

Covie city

Sanctum of Virtue, the largest and oldest Sangheili city on the Kaaran continent, was once a bastion of Keltash architecture. No longer.

During the Great Schism, the planet was thrown into a short conflict as the local Covenant forces suddenly turned on their Sangheili hosts. While Ketesh has no formal military force, all citizens are trained from birth to be warriors, and paramilitary groups were not only common, they were all-but openly encouraged by the Ketesh leadership. The result was a bitter struggle for control of the orbital Shipyards, with an elite team of Morhekan commandoes managing to gain control, reinforced by forces from Mopada and the Trinity nations. The Cult of Quenyathar, a group bitterly opposed to the Covenant from the start, and the last practitioners of the pre-Covenant faith, had been planning for an uprising for a long time, and had built up a considerably stockpile of armaments, and began distributing them. "Civilians" pushed the Jiralhanae occupying forces back, capturing and taking two cruisers, and a coordinated effort spearheaded by the Morhekan Interim Council resulted in a united effort to herd the remnants of the Jiralhanae where they could be exterminated. The unquestioning success of the defence of Ketesh had far-reaching consequences - for one thing, it kept the planet free of Covenant influence, denying them a staging point from which to launch incursions into Sangheili territory, and denied them the planets resources; for another, the fact that the planet had no formal military and still managed to hold its own was a significant propaganda coup for the Sangheili. The Second Battle of Ketesh would take place later, in 2559, with a Blood Covenant fleet destroying the Morhekan Orbital Shipyards in retribution for the UNSC-SAF victory at Unmoving Virtue.

Although there was some question whether Ketesh would ally itself officially with the weakened Sangheili Armed Forces or try to gain its independence, ultimately it chose to join with its Sanghelios brethren in a united front, joining the separatist cause. Kaaranese Sangheili would serve a vital part in the war of vengeance against the centuries of Prophet oppression and the attempted genocide by the Jiralhanae, with members among the temporary military leadership. After the War of Vengeance, Special Operations Commander Qur'a 'Morhek, the hereditary heir of the throne of Morheka, would return to his home world, also becoming head of the Kaaranese League, the first Morhekan to do so in the Leagues history without any objections from the Mopadan Confederacy and its allies.

Ethnicity

250,000 years of isolation have had surprisingly little effect on the Sangheili phenotype - they remain tall, muscular and intelligent, with a tendency towards fuedalistic society and martial aggression. On a genetic level, however, the differences are easily discernable - various ethnic groups have emerged during this time, intermingling and producing divergent populations. Some Sangheili purists assert that as a separate "race", the Kaaranese were never included in the writ of union, and that they should therefore be excluded from military service. This is mostly the result of Sangheili jingoism and political struggles - on the whole, despire their different cultures and ethics, the Kaaranese have proven themselves every bit the equal of their Sanghelian brethren.

The ethnic groups can generally be split into two distinct groups - the Zephyrean and Eurun groups, based on geographic distribution. The majority of the "easter" Eurun groups are descended from cultures native to Kaaran - some have remained relatively isolated since the arrival of Keteshan survivors from the Second Exodus, though with some cultural transference. Others are descended from groups pushed further east by various campaigns from the west, such as the Morhekan Wars of Conquest, the Mopadan Expansion, the Taming of the North and the Nartecan Ascension. The result is that more Euran Kaaranese regard themselves as the native peoples of their continent, and believe that the more recent Zephyrans are usurpers and conquerors - a view that is difficult to dispute.

The Zephyrans, on the other hand, are a much more varied group, largely composed of former Keltashan cultures who crossed the Straits of Wrath during the Second Exodus. Centuries of intermingling have left many genealogies a shambles, especially as they plunged into their own Dark Age, a time where things become difficult to state with any certainty, but a number of distinct groups have emerged, largely clan-based. The Morhekan groups have historically occupied the Qu'refran Peninsula to the north-west, while the rival Mopadan groups occupy the Rezh'akh Peninsula to the south-west, approximately similar places in terms of geography, climate and biosphere. The north of the continent was settled by a confederation of Morhekan clans as they expanded into the area, assimilating or replacing the original Euran native tribesmen, and some renmants of this curious mixture remain. The southern deserts, however, have remained isolated since their invasion by the Narteca, the expulsion of their original occupants, and their subsequent imposed isolation, from which they have rarely broken out of.

Some genetic mixture is common - the territories that fill the gulf between Morheka and Mopada have become a cultural and genetic melting pot, with Euran settlers attracted by lucrative trade prospects, as well as potential recolonisation of the northern continents. The Narteca, however, have remained isolated for centuries - the number of individuals to enter their territory and live is few enough, but those who have been able to return to tell of their experiences can be counted in the single digits.

Modern Clans (Genetic Lineage)

Zephyran - descended from Keltashan refugees from the Second Exodus. Common in the extreme west and centre of the continent.
  • Morhekan - ethnic sub-groups endemic to the west and north-west
    • Morteca
    • Heka
    • Joralan
    • Xoram
    • Kotarq
    • R'runu
  • Mopadan - diverging from the Morhekans after the First Civil War, endemic to the south-west
    • Mopad
    • Worsatz
    • Kargama
    • Tlatom
    • Ehesetu
    • Warrum
    • Haetsleta
    • Fuqum
  • Nartecan - diverging from the Mopadans after their Second Exile, have remained in isolation in the south and central deserts.
  • Assorted - the results of intermingling of various Keltashan and Euran genotypes that have since remained distinct. Common in central Kaaran and in the north.
    • Duash
    • She'era
    • Katan
    • Yata
    • Ohanaest
    • Ohanakana
Euran - descendants of the native inhabitants of Kaaran pre-Second Exodus, occupy much of the east.
  • Voltak
  • Soitnam
  • Shaitan
  • Tsunam
  • Zhoctan
  • Vaharal
  • Tena'aket
  • Ovazhan
  • Eudesol
  • Lokhtai
  • Uashakhinde

Distribution

Sangheiliosground

The Qu'refran Peninsula was once a well irrigated and thriving region. The eruption of Mount Keltam changed things drastically.

Though Ketesh possesses three continents, only two have been inhabited, and of those only one still supports a civilisation of significant complexity. The Daaran continent still supports a few wandering band of nomadic tribes, remnants of those left behind during the First Exodus, but is otherwise uninhabited. What was once home to the Keltash Empire, which spanned most of Daaran and had several offshore assets, including a small base on Kaaran, was destroyed in 400 BC by the eruption of Mount Keltam. Today, the once-mighty Keltash Empire is buried under meters of volcanic ash and soot, or was destroyed by tidal waves striking the coast.

The largest concentration of Sangheili is on Kaaran, the planet's southernmost continent, where the Sangheili have built up a civilisation that rivals that of Sanghelios itself, supporting four billion inhabitants. In terms of population density, the majority are located to the north-east and south-east in the two largest nation-states, Morheka and Mopada, though there are significant numbers in the north-west and the central continent. The south, known as the Nartecan wastelands, is a vast and expansive desert inhabited only by the nomadic Narteca clan, who fiercely defend their borders against interlopers, tolerating no aggression against itself, whether intentional or accidental.

The Kaaranese have begun to colonise portions of the planet that have otherwise been left untouched. Daaran is home to three small settlements, an attempt to re-establish a presence on the Kaaranese Sangheili's ancient "homeland", but has met with little success. More successful is the projects aimed at inhabiting the many offshore islands to the west and north of Kaaran, where thriving fishing communities have sprung up. A research outpost has been established on the planets third continent Thaaran, but the Kaaranese League has ratified treaties with the Morhekans and Mopadans declaring the continent to be a biological preserve, intended to increase tourism to the planet and to study its vast ecological diversity.

Of note are two separate attempts to create colonies in orbit above Ketesh, by the Morhekans and Mopadans. While the former have made significant gains inhabiting the planets largest moon, Qui'vra, using Covenant artificial gravity to establish permanent mining bases there, the Morhekan space program has been more ambitious - using materials harvested from other orbiting satellites, and passing asteroids and meteors, the Morhekans have built up a space colony capable of serving as a stop-off point during travel through the system. It also serves as a midway-point between the planet and the Quar'tukra Asteroid belt, and Morhekan mining companies have had much success with harvesting the rich deposits there.


Society

Government

Councilor

A member of the Morhekan National Assembly, representatives of the regions who form the Morhekan Council.

Sangheili history in general is meritocratic, and the Kaaranese remain true to that principle. But while Sanghelios society uses a feudal meritocratic autocratic system, the Kaaranese approach is very different. Early Ketesh Sangheili history indicates that they indeed retained the autocratic system for a long time, until approximately 900 BC, when the system suddenly transitions to a timocracy - elections by the landowner class to elect a leader, rather than a hereditary monarchy or permanent "leader-for-life" position. The Keltash Empire seems to have been the pinnacle of this - their leaders were truly democratic, with elections held every fourteen Cycles to elect a new leader, with more frequent elections for lesser officials and advisors. Alas, the destruction of Keltash was also the destruction of Ketesh democracy.

On Kaaran, the early Kaaranese civilisation seems to have reverted to autocracy again, with a dual monarchy held by the two dominant clans, the Mortec and Nartec. A brutal civil war in 40 BC saw the expulsion of the Narteca, and for several hundred years, the region cycled through the clans for their rulers until the Mopadan invasion in 400 AD. After the Keltam Uprising, and the return of the Keltam heir to his throne, the system became hereditary - passed down to Morheka the Great, who in turn left it to his children, and so on. Morheka seems to have had no ambitions to make the position hereditary, merely seeing his son as the most capable to take the position, but successive inheritance from father to son soon did away with Morheka's intentions. Various leaders who were corrupt, insane or openly practiced nepotism turned public opinion against the royal family, and the Quenyathar Suppression was the last straw - the secession of the Trinity Nations, the fracturing of Morheka's eastern territories, and the invasion of the south saw the permanent fall in power of the hereditary monarchy from power, though it was never abolished. Modern Morheka is a constitutional monarchy, and though the monarch retains some powers, the majority of it is very much in a central Council.

Other areas use different systems. The member-states of the Trinity of Light are timocratic, granting voting rights to those who have earned their "citizenship", electing leaders. Others, such as the Mopadan Confederacy, are a loose hegemony of regions controlled by tribes who have a very basic leadership, again using the cycle system employed by early Morheka. The Narteca are reclusive, and little is known about their society. To the far east the Republic of Voltakra was the first (and, to date, only) nation on the continent to resurrect Keltash-style democracy, though it is regarded with suspicion by its neighbours, who prefer the tried and tested aristocratic system that has emerged. Various states style themselves as "empires" - Morheka being the most notable, and Mopada technically meeting the criteria but preferring to consider itself a confederacy, but the smaller Duashe'eran Hegemony has always had imperial ambitions, hoping to make itself into a superpower to rival its western. It has never had much success, it's campaigns of conquest in the east halted by the resistance of Voltakra and then abandoned as it devoted itself to a war against the Narteca due to its territorial incursions. Today, though Duashe'era still seeks to become a regional power, it has lost much influence and credibility through various poor alliances, vainly trying to restore its prestige.

Besides Morheka and Mopada, the largest single autonymous entity is the Trinity of Light, a hegemony of three semi-autonymous nation-states, Joralan, Kotarq and Xoram, that are governed by a shared council of elders. Each nation retains the autocratic clan-based aristocratic system common across the continent, but each clan also appoints a number of representatives to a shared council to deliberate and legislate on matters that effect all three states. It is a union that has persisted for centuries, and has proven remarkably effective, adopted by many smaller collections of states that have banded together for mutual protection and benefit. The League of Unified Kaaran Nations would initially be modelled on the Trinity, eventually expanding to encompass the entire continent, as well as colonies to the north and west.

Today, the League serves in a roughly analogous role to the Earth-based United Nations, functioning as a forum for representatives of Kaaran's nations where grievances can be aired, negotiations can be conducted, and affairs of note or concern can be raised. Theoretically, it serves as Ketesh's world government, and appoints representatives to the Covenant High Council. Practically, it still retains the problems that the UN were plagued by until reformations in the middle 22nd Century - ineffectiveness, either due to an unwillingness to recognise the League's authority, or because it is unable to enforce its decisions.

Religion

Main article: Religion of Kaaran

In terms of religion, the majority of the planet was quickly converted to the Prophet's system of Forerunner worship. The Forerunners have always been a part of the Kaaranese religion, usually depicted as angelic beings who served the native Kaaran Gods. The Cult of Quenyathar was the first to insist that the Forerunners were not truly divine, but still worthy of reverence - such heretical views were the cause of much persecution, but they persisted until the Great Schism, when they once again became the main faith. Other religions existed - the Followers of Yathawey were extirpated on the orders of the Prophets for refusing to acknowledge the divinity of the Forerunners and the authority of the Prophets, though a major river still bears their name. The Second Exodus is the term used by historians to describe the period of time when the Prophets secured their hold on Ketesh, suppressing rival belief systems brutally, and punishing those caught practicing them as heretics. Many fled to the central continent, where the harsh conditions and proximity to the fierce Narteca made it difficult for the Covenant to follow, and though life has been difficult for them, preyed on by both the Covenant and the Narteca, they still struggled on until the Great Schism, when their beliefs were once again embraced by the Kaaranese.

Military

Honor Guard Councilor Halway

The Voltakran Legion is an exclusively female military force, drawing members from across the continent. Their reputation is much feared.

The Kaaranese are certainly as militaristic as their Sanghelios brethren, with conflicts between rival states a constant fixture of Kaaran history. The Keltash Empire maintained a permanent army for resolving internal disputes and preventing dissenters from splitting away, but otherwise had little in the way of competition, being the only major civilisation on the planet at that point. After the First Exodus, that system came to a halt - the Civil War of early Morheka saw various tribes try to make land grabs, and saw the fracture of the early empire into Morheka and Mopada. Viewing each other as their largest threat, both nations built up permanent military forces for aggression and self-defence, and a near-constant state of war has existed between the two.

Other nations use military forces purely for internal arbitration, where they function more as a police force than as a military. The Trinity nations share a single defence force, used to defend the borders and respond to internal events. Other nations are not so fortunate, being too small and poor to afford to keep a military force, relying on their diplomatic ties to larger, stronger nations for defence. The network of military alliances is complex and difficult to sort out, and is perhaps the reason why war has been scarce in recent history - the idea of an ally suddenly becoming an enemy at the slightest provocation of another nation is enough to give the most militaristic blowhards pause.

Technology

Ketesh Sangheili have had a long history of swift technological advancement and then utter destruction, achieving a Tier Six Industrial level, only to be reduced to a Tier Seven Pre-Industrial level by some cataclysm. The most recent such rise and fall was the Keltash Empire, located on the Qu'refra Peninsula, which became an Industrial society, inventing steam engines, primitive electronics, and expanding rapidly before the eruption of Mount Keltam destroyed it utterly. After the Exodus, the Kaaranese began again, managing to reach a Tier Four Space Age level before contact with the Covenant.

Much of this progress has been centred in eastern Kaaran, in the Republic of Voltakra, which, despite its small size, has been a cultural hub for scientific advancement throughout the ages. Contributing even more to the Kaaranese Sangheili’s technological advancement have been the Voltakran Alchemists, an offshoot of the Cult of Quenyathar which shunned the religious emphasis of all technology, making only Forerunner relics sacrosanct, innovating in new and unexpected ways. Though initially persecuted by the established religious order, the nations of Kaaran quickly realised that technological advantages equalled military advancements – moving from the now-hostile Voltakra, the Alchemists would establish themselves in the more hospitable western Kaaran, where the constant arms races, cold wars and outright conflicts between the two nations would drive much of the continents advancement for centuries. Nevertheless, it was only after the formation of the Kaaranese League and the discovery of a Forerunner ship in re-colonised portions of Keltash that the Kaaranese began to journey into space, establishing a small number of intra-system mining and research colonies. It was only the benefits of the Conviction that allowed the Sangheili to repel a Kig-Yar attempt at the plunder of a small Forerunner gas mining facility in the system, and though it resulted in the destruction of a Covenant Ministry of Tranquillity Missionary Ship, effectively a cassus belli for the Covenant, it would eventually allow the Kaaranese to join the Covenant peacefully and willingly.

After being incorporated by the Covenant, technological advancement became almost a moot point. The swift adoption of Covenant technologies saw the decline of native technologies in favour of those developed by the more advanced Prophets, though many questioned the validity of the decree that none should "tamper" with the technologies without Prophet approval. As such, technology on Ketesh is often "improved" by local scientists and physicists, skirting around Covenant decree through loopholes and technicalities, producing some unique examples of Ketesh ingenuity.

Prior to Covenant contact, most of the architecture on Ketesh was styled after the old Qu'refran style, incorporating angular blocks, arches, and pillars. This style became more popular when Forerunner artefacts were discovered, with alterations made to mimic the ancient ruins, though remaining distinct. After incorporation, the dominant architectural style became the curved purple common throughout the rest of the Covenant, as Ketesh society became fascinated by their long-lost Sanghelios brethren. There still remain areas where the old style can be found, but for the most part the Covenant has succeeded in imposing itself upon the once distinct Kaaranese Sangheili.

Quotes

  • "Right, right, let's get this straight. Ketesh is the planet, and Kaaran is the continent, right? Great. Damn alien geography."
  • "Many ask what the difference between Ketesh and Sanghelios is - both Sangheili worlds. But Ketesh has been isolated from the rest of our brethren for thousands of years - to say that they have become "distinct" is an understatement."
  • "Have you been to the Western Continent? They have friggin' dinosaurs! DINOSAURS!"
  • "Even the Kaaranese Sangheili have no idea about the cultures they wiped out when they settled their world. Perhaps the Covenant could have had a few new converts?"
  • "They say there is an island on Ketesh that only rises from the depths of the ocean when the stars align, that was built by an ancient and terrifying civilisation, where an old god waits to return to his domain. Which is preposterous, of course. Stellar alignment has no effect on geography."
  • "A lot of people think of Sangheili as patriarchal misogynists. My response would be: have you seen a female Ketesh Sangheili, dressed in full combat regalia, slaughtering her foes mercilessly with a double-bladed plasma staff?"

Behind the Scenes

HumanCircle
MorhekHonour Light Your Way
TALK CONTRIBUTIONS — Saturday, July 11 2020 (Pacific Standard Time)
The Kaaranese Sangheili were inspired by a dream I had of Battlestar Galactica, shortly after watching the ending. A man walked through a museum, looking at the exhibits in the cavernous hall. The symbols of the Twelve Colonies hang along one wall on tapestries, glass cases hold uncovered weapons and artefacts from the colonists, a ruined and rusted Raptor is roped off in a corner of the room. Above them, the roof is a view of the stars, twinkling with artificial light. Another star chart map, this one labelled along a route, takes up half of another wall.

The man walking through the exhibit is alone. Well, not quite alone. A janitor sidles over, asking him a few questions. The viewer asks what the exhibit is about. The Janitor explains about the Great Star Caravan that fled their homeworlds, seeking a new place to live while pursued all the while by death. He shows a stone carving of a familiar outline - the Galactica in profile - called the "great galleon" that led the caravan. He points to the tapestries, explaining the meaning behind each, who they represented. He gestures at a "helmet" uncovered, explaining it to be the foe they fled. He grumbles that nobody remembers the old ways and old times, and that all this has happened before. And will happen again.

The man looks at the tapestries for a while, turns to ask the janitor a question. The man is gone.

The Janitor was Admiral Adama.

I actually liked this ending far better than the actual one, and decided to use a modified version of it as the backstory of my Sangheili, explaining how they arrived on Ketesh from elsewhere. The First Exodus is loosely modelled on the flight of the colonists, though the threat they faced was much different. The Great Caravan now ties into the Labyrinth Array, though the plan the Architect had or has for the Sangheili of Kaaran is not yet clear to me...



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