The Yanme'e homeworld has always been a mystery for the UNSC, with the complex language developed by the native Yanme'e and their superhuman abilities only making it harder to fully describe and understand the environment that they evolved in. This, coupled with its location deep within former Covenant territory and the rarity the Covenant talk about their homeworlds meant that even the most basic information - its size, terrain, even its name - were locked outside of Humanity's grasp for a long time. Yet all that did was amplify the awe given off by it was finally revealed to the UNSC. While only slightly less than twice the size of Earth, its gravitational pull was more than double that of almost any other inhabited planets. Four moons orbit the planet, causing extreme tidal changes on the surface of the oceans, yet the planet itself was incredibly stable, experiencing only a small handful of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes every year. Coupled with the native life-forms on the surface, there is nothing that won't shock even the most prepared visitor.
As the Yanme'e homeworld, their lust for combat has created several unnatural scars across its surface. The quest to gain the largest territory of all the other thousands of hives mean that whenever one conflict ends, another dispute rises elsewhere in another location. Though it has the largest cultural diversification of any Yanme'e colony, this double-edged sword is too often seen as yet another excuse to wipe each other out.
When the Covenant arrived and crushed the Yanme'e resistance at their home system, they exploited the advantages the planet had to offer and established a number of successful industries on Palamok. With a cheap workforce that had only one overwhelming passion in life, the gravitational 'shield' offered by its moons and the mineral richness that was present in the Napret System, Palamok became home to a thriving mining and shipbuilding industry which powered the Covenant's military. No other shipyard could come close to the peak industrial capacity of Palamok, until far more efficient Forerunner technology was discovered. Though some of these quick advances were incorporated into the construction facilities which orbit the planet, many of them fell into decay and misuse when newer facilities such as K7-49 were constructed up until the end of the Covenant. However, with the recent unification of the species, its advantages are proving to be the reason behind its massive supercharged economy at the end of the devastating Yanme'e Civil War - an advantage which makes its neighbours anxious.
Palamok was theorised to have been created over 5.4 billions of years ago (BYA), only slightly younger than its host star, Napret. As was normal for planetary formation, the early Palamok more resembled a free-flying asteroid than any spherical planet. Colliding with other asteroids in the system's early Nebula 'cradle', the asteroid, astronomically-speaking, rapidly grew in size, and by 4.9 BYA it was already the size of Earth. It was at this time its growth apparently stalled, and its crust began to harden. The surface of early Palamok could somewhat be compared to Jupiter's moon Io; covered with innumerable numbers of craters and active volcanoes which spewed out billions of tonnes of Nitrogen and other gases into the early atmosphere. Oceans of lava covered where the cooler crust did not. Because of its size and roughly standard formation, Palamok seemed destined to appear like Earth, or Sanghelios, or any number of normal life-sustaining worlds.
An artist's recreation of the so-called Great Napret Explosion, which almost destroyed Palamok.
Sensor anomalies in Palamok's lithosphere reveal a major change in rock layers about which are believed to originate 4.15 billion years ago. Thanks to the aggression the Yanme'e had towards humanity and Sangheili after the Great War, limited evidence is available to suggest what happened during this time period. A popular theory beginning to take wind is that Palamok was hit by two major planet-sized objects in quick succession around this time, almost completely shattering the early planet altogether. Over time, the fragments combined together to give shape to Palamok, and potentially some of its moons. Evidence which supports this is the Great By'ron'di Crater on the least hospitable of Palamok's moons, Naxook, and its massive distance to the next planet inner planet. The theory predicts that the moons may display shared rock makeup, similar layer anomalies and maybe even similar radioactive isotopes or products of those isotopes, expected to be found when NEW HORIZON scientific group arrives to Palamok in 2650.
Regardless, very few extra-terrestrial events impacts affected Palamok to any degree. It continued to harden and cool, eventually cooling down enough to allow water to replace lava as the main liquid on the surface. It also formed a very close orbit to Niklonix, and while few noticable effects were felt on Palamok save for even larger tidal differences at certain times of the year, Niklonix's asteroid rings were attracted to the gravity 'shield' the moons provided - the main reason why Palamok suffered relatively few asteroid strikes. Unfortunately, this blessing was a curse for its moons, as every few years they were subject to a massive asteroid bombardment, something which slowly depleted the rings. In fact, it is possible that because of this close orbit, Palamok may have acquired one of its moons from Niklonix during a very close pass - no hard evidence exists to support this claim, of course. It has since left the gravitational influence of Palamok, saving what little remained of Niklonix's rings.
Early Biological History
"What's interesting is that Palamok followed a rather routine evolution path for life. Cells evolve a nucleus, then the first true invertebrates evolved. The real interesting part is what happens next - how the arthropods resisted to being removed as the dominant animals."
―Leading xeno-archaeologist George V. Falter, summarising Palamok's early biological history.
While it is not known when or how, life did eventually arrive and flourish here. Much of the data was analysed during the Covenant's occupation of the planet - some was recovered from abandoned terminals, others were kindly donated from the Sangheili archives. According to the types of rocks the earliest cells were present in or near, Palamok was still a volcanically active planet, to what degree is unknown. Limited atmospheric samples trapped in the rocks hint at a lack of Oxygen during this time period, and the subsequent lack of Ozone would have allowed several types of cells to appear in a very close timespan. These early cells were massive, at least compared to their later descendents - the largest fossil recovered measured just over six centimetres at its longest point. They competed for survival in the toxic waters, diversifying into millions of forms in an attempt to gain dominance.
Around 4 BYA, the first evidence of predatory cells appeared; strangely, none of the 'prey' cells had chloroplasts, the organelle which powered photosynthesis in plants. Perhaps they were still feasting on cells which harvested gases from volcanic vents. Whatever the case, life swarmed across the ever-increasing oceans. Fortunately (at least for human geologists), life began following a similar path as their cousins on Earth about 3.7 BYA, and soon began taking in water instead of hydrogen. Coupled with the inevitable 'rusting' of the oceans, the atmosphere quickly changed, becoming incredibly dense and forming a thick ozone layer due to the huge increase in Oxygen levels, slowing down all DNA mutations. Due to a variety of factors, such as being trapped in the rocks and possibly being drained to the moons, the atmosphere slowly grew thinner and thinner, eventually leading to the thinner-than-average atmosphere it has today. Soon after the rusting, Palamok entered a planet-wide ice age - something which has puzzled many experts, who initially believed Palamok had more than enough volcanoes to maintain a viable surface temperature. Studies are still going into this to find out why it happened.
Trahentiuous Tuperlapides was the largest of the earliest multicellular creatures to rise upon land, far before even plants did the same.
Over 3.5 BYA, Palamok's ice age finally ended, believed to have been caused by a massive global volcanic eruption from multiple super-volcanoes. Once the ice melted, the first unicellular and multi-cellular plants and multi-cellular animals appeared - soft-bodied invertebrates, of course. Over the next few hundreds of millions of years, the development of hard shells eventually opened the way for the first arthropods - insects, arachnids and other similar creatures. While they were more or less the same size as similar species on other worlds, they had a far stronger carapace to resist the planet's high gravity and the originally-heavy atmosphere. But they weren't the only species to dominate the surface; later plants also established a foothold, powering the water and oxygen cycle which ironically helped arthropods spread across the globe. The only vertebrates that evolved were fish, and they dominated that was largely displaced of such creatures at the time - the oceans and vast rivers.
The End of an Age
"If you compare Yanme'e specimens to other life forms that are on Palamok, you'll see they are only distantly related to the other bugs found across the planet; in fact they have a more in common with reptiles. Centralised nervous system, skin shown to have scale-like qualities and even the fact they are cold-blooded. Perhaps they're not insects as we previously thought, but an entirely new order of reptiles."
―Professor V. Chronia, arguing the fact that the Yanme'e are incorrectly categorised.
Life continued to flourish this way, keeping to the age-old body design of the arthropods. The Comet Bombardment in 2.7 and 1.5 BYA, the Great Heating (caused by massive eruptions from multiple super-volcanoes) which occurred in 1.7 BYA and the Ice Ages which occur naturally every 1.3 Million years did nothing to change it. Though a number of new types of animals evolved to test their hold, including the reptilian, yet warm-blooded Diligenter Subrupisus, the diversified invertebrates already had the necessary weapons and tools to drive them back to the brink of extinction. Despite what natural selection tried to achieve, the residents were too well rooted and diversified to change, and for the next billion years, nothing really changed to contest that fact.
Around 500 MYA, Palamok's lithosphere entered an age of stabilisation, where its continents began to slowly and gently fuse together, eventually forming the six mega-continents seen today. As well as the lack of volcanoes and fault lines, soil nutrition levels plummeted to an all-time low. Computer simulations reveal that for the soil to reach the present composition of compounds and elements, new minerals would've had to stop entering approximately four hundred millions of years ago - these results were scaled upwards to compensate for the decomposing bodies returning some of the minerals back. This explains why many of Palamok's trees have deep root systems and Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, as well as the variety of carnivorous plants that populate its surface, but had little effect on the animals which lived and fed on them.
One of the most-recent members of this group was the semi-sentient Insipiens Rex, which lived from about 1.1 MYA up until 170,000 years ago. Inhabiting dry but still tree-rich forests on the south-western section of the continent Ta'voki, where fruit-based matter was scarce for herbivores, Insipiens became a potent predator which was believed to be the apex predator of its ecosystem. Standing only a mere five feet tall, Insipiens exoskeleton is similar to their descendants, with a more pronounced head and far smaller wings - believed a left-over from their unknown ancestors to increase their size to predators or maybe even capable of actual flight. Insipiens brain was found to have the intelligence to feed on new sources of food, but was incapable of living independent of an arboreal environment. Thus, Insipiens range was restricted when the highland grasslands and rain-shadowed deserts near the disjointed Tra'Zalpt'Chi Ranges prevented trees of any kind growing in land numbers. What is exceptionally strange between them and their descendants is that Insipiens rarely formed groups larger than seventeen individuals, which is thought to be made up primarily of related members.
The scientists could not know that Palamok was, in fact, a Precursor research planet. Here, late into their empire's prime, their scientists came in force to test evolution hypothesis' on their natives. Not much is known about their activities, although some evidence does suggest they tested extensively on Insipiens populations, attempting to understand the mysteries of biological evolution and adaption. When their empire crumbled, their facilities fell into abandonment and left unused, but their experiments on accelerating evolution permanently changed Insipiens, and by the time the Forerunner's rebelled against their Precursor overlords, there was enough DNA changes that Insipiens was no longer able to breed with their main species. Two species are thought to have emerged from this common ancestor: the less-capable and more reclusive Armada Rex, or the Groath, and the far more social and adaptable Turpis Rex, or the Yanme'e.
Given this revelation, it's possible the Grangores evolved by a similar experiment, though no fossils of their ancestors have been recovered.
Librarian: "I aim to save all species - and I will not deny that opportunity to the insectoid inhabitants of GC-09-31c."
Value-to-Hope: "I'm not saying you're denying them that opportunity, I just believe you need to reassess your priorities to compensate for more well-developed species."
―The Librarian resists the advice by one of her Lifeworkers.
Despite its size and richness of natural resources, Palamok was largely dismissed by the Forerunners for some reason; perhaps they were content with the resources excavated across many other worlds. It could also be due to the fact they were observing the formation of a new sentient species, potentially granting a great amount of knowledge for their civilisation on the origins of sentient life. Whatever the reason, the Yanme'e was largely left to their own devices, receiving no alien influence since the Precursors hid one of their artifacts there in their abandoned structures - unknown to the Forerunners. They quickly spread across the planet, clearing the forests of their homeworld and dominating the surface and enslaving the second, though ultimately unrecognised, sentient natives on the planet, the Grangores.
Later, towards the end of the Forerunner-Flood War, the Librarian herself came to Palamok to pick up specimens of the Yanme'e; their intelligence was questioned by her subordinates, however, since their society appeared to have more common in ants than it did with other species of the same age. That was soon put to rest, when a number of queens came together and voted to destroy the 'aliens' who invaded their home. The subsequent attack on the Librarian's life led to a Forerunner naval fleet retaliating against the natives. Sadly, despite the queen's efforts, spears did nothing against the advanced armour and shields of their foes, and subsequently led to the decimation of their military and widespread destruction of their hives and population centres. Though the damage was supposed to leave them rebuilding for decades, the Yanme'e recovered surprisingly quickly and rebuilt their society in only a few years - something which delighted the Lifeworker overseers.
The planet fell to the flood by the end of the war; its rich native life enslaved to the will of the Gravemind and discovering the hidden Precursor artifact. Before it could be used against the forerunners, the Halos fired, the neural interference destroying all precursor artifacts in the Galaxy, and as a consequence killing all sentient life that can support the flood. The forests and native animals resumed control over the planet, rebuilding and recolonising their world without the influence of even its natives for thousands of years.
Reseeding and Later History
Palamok was uninhabited by any upper intelligent life forms for thousands of years after the first actual firing of the Halos, as its other, less-intelligent plants and animals rebuilt their ecosystems, most which were destroyed by the flood. Eventually, the forerunners embarked on the second phase of the Conservation Measure, with the LifeshaperChant-to-Green authorising the project. Because of the massive nature of the Measure, and a number of other factors, Palamok was also the last to have its native sentient species successfully reintroduced. About 90,000 years ago, the Measure was complete, with the indexed Grangore and Yanme'e populations successfully reintroduced to their homeworld. Faced with the likelihood that not all indexed species would survive, measures were put into place for the most likely to get close to extinction. The Yanme'e, with several large carnivores such as the intelligent Grangores which naturally preyed on them, were placed on the watch list and countermeasures prepared should they veer close to extinction - ironic, since the Halos actually saved the predatory Grangore species instead. Fortunately, both the native species responded very well to their environments and thrived, never requiring any of the countermeasures.
Unlike the events in pre-history, the native Yanme'e and Grangore populations took a very long time to advance to their technology, and the environment remained intact for much of its later history. They also remained largely ignorant of each other, with the Grangore specimens adopting a isolationist civilisation. It has been theorised the Precursor artifact controlled the queens, allowing them to adapt much quickly and more effectively to changing circumstances, allowing them to ruthlessly destroy their surroundings and enemies. Whatever the case, like all species they recovered far longer than predictions suggested. And like many species, the ancient ruins they found on their homeworld led to them being declared sacred places, with the queens building their beliefs around them, unknown that they themselves built them
Palamok was to play host to multiple civil wars between rival hives. The varied terrain gave rise to very different cultural aesthetics, slightly different values and even different subspecies in the many hives spread across the planet. It was this reason, and their natural inclination for a consistent culture and society, sadly meant that from their first days they fought not only with their natural predators, but also each other.
Due to the marginal differences in culture and the ambitions of queens, many hives fell into conflict.
The first of these were mostly small-scaled fighting, intended to grab as much land as possible from each other. As they got more advanced, the violence stepped up to meet it. The First Unification on the super-continent of Ta'voki was the largest and worst of these early battles, involving over twenty-five different hives at its height. This war was so-named because it resulted in the first time all the major Yanme'e hives united under a single ruler - Master Queen Vipra'eme of Hive Chij-Me'e. She manipulated potential enemies into an alliance to gather intelligence and subsequently wipe them out. She then launched a two decade campaign to pacify her enemies, using war mounts and recent developments in ceramic projectiles and Bronze armour to crush her enemies. So thorough were her campaigns that only nine of the superpowers, including Vipra's hive, were spared. The rest were massacred with their achievements burned to the ground. In the aftermath of the war, Vipra'eme would lay the foundations for a unified Yanme'e government - the Swarms of Palamok.
Vipra'eme died not long after her campaigns on Ta'voki came to an end, and subsequent attempts to spread the Swarms met in failure for two reasons. Firstly, the hives on the other continents were well-rooted and established, and the lack of knowledge on the terrain led to the invading Swarms being continuously pushed back. The second and by far the most significant reason was due to the infighting between the queens of the Swarm. The right for succession was hereditary and the Master Queen wielded absolute power, which inspired many members to either rebel against the dictator or attempt to assassinate their way to the top.
Yanme'e-Grangore Dominion Wars
"We are the Yanme'e! We are the masters of Palamok! From the sky to the forests to the rivers all around, nothing matched the might of the Yanme'e"
―A Yanme'e soldier's chant
It might surprise many queens that the Grangores were aware of their neighbours for decades, even centuries before they were openly met. The Grangores were exceptionally wary of the Yanme'e, as they believed their advances only brought fear, death and destruction - something which couldn't be disagreed with. To avoid any kind of confrontation, they kept moving their villages, adopting a nomadic lifestyle to stay ahead of the forest's shrinking fringes. They frequently destroyed their former homes and population centres, and took any evidence of their existence along with them. Of course, many knew it was only a matter of time before they were discovered, and in their flight they developed new weapons and armour to prepare for the inevitable war. When they finally did meet, civil tensions in the Yanme'e led to them immediately firing the first shots in the most destructive and notable war Palamok has ever seen, the very first planet-spanning conflict: the Yanme'e-Grangore Dominion Wars.
Originally beginning sometime in 415 CE, the Dominion Wars were the answer the queens have been searching for a very, very long time. They didn't care about the environmental destruction; they saw the intelligence and strength of the Grangores as a significant threat to their own civilisation. At first, the Yanme'e's expertise in combat, their technology and their sheer numbers led to them winning the early engagements; they could be described more like massacres than battles. However, the Grangore population were very far from stupid, and began reverse-engineering the technology of the 'racist bugs' - how it worked, how to make it and even where they were being produced. The natural size and strength of the Grangores allowed them to attack the weapons factories, and these asymmetrical operations were usually frighteningly successful. The war was only in its early days, however.
The conflict spanned almost two centuries, with permanent divisions created between the two races. The Grangores eventually united together under the banner of Palamok Protectors, and the natural gap in equipment and technology between even their own forces was addressed not long after its creation. While the Yanme'e had the initial technological advantage, the Grangores had domesticated much larger predators, and utilised them in their struggle. The forest-clearing progress was permanently stalled. Worst for the Yanme'e, any technological superiority they displayed was quickly analysed and reproduced by the Protectors, and to the Queens surprise they found they were evenly matched and locked in a stalemate. The Protector's strength in stealth and far superior soldiers overwhelmed the Yanme'e's troops, while their numbers in turn overwhelmed the Protectors in open conflicts. Eventually, the Yanme'e would prove to gain the final two advantages only industrialised civilisations could ever achieve; artificial flight, and nuclear weapons. Both advances were made within days of each other, and allowed the Yanme'e to finally destroy the largest and strongest fortresses the Protectors utilised - Bul'Truvis'Qui-One and Argus'Bpirto. While anti-air weaponry was available for the Protectors by repurposing existing technology, after the destructive capacity for the nukes was revealed meant that the mere sighting of the bombers signalled destruction. Finally, in 835 CE the commanders of the Protectors surrendered, unable to develop a countermeasure for the bombs.
The remaining Grangores either formed isolated family clans with low blood diversity, or were captured and tortured by the Yanme'e, and used as slaves. The Yanme'e were now utterly convinced that they were the greatest force that ever existed, and the doubt that existed between individual Queens before the Dominion Wars was now gone; united in a well-equipped military force that specialised in combat cohesion and teamwork. Part of the extreme peace was the threat of nuclear bombardment on rogue hives who sort to either become independent or seize control of the Yanme'e. Using the newly-discovered technology of artificial flight, they eventually entered their own space age, colonising the last inhabitable planet, Chij'Ezro, by 1095 CE. For a time, it seemed nothing could come between the warlike Yanme'e and galactic conquest.
"... they [the Queens] were initially wary and hostile to our fleet. An alliance of aliens from outside their system arrived and proved one thing to them; they weren't the only species to achieve space travel... Their alignment away from individual difference sparked outrage among their rulers... peace was initially impossible because of cultural and biological obstacles."
That changed when the Yanme'e intercepted an unidentified ship entering their system not long after their colonisation of Chij'Erzo. Killing the aliens aboard, the Yanme'e queens and even Master Queen herself personally studied the ship themselves, and were surprised to discover that some other race - or races - have mastered much more advanced technology than even they have currently achieved. Arrogant and vengeful, the queens agreed to build up a powerful military force in anticipation for a planned strike in unknown territory. However, the Covenant never gave them a chance, and the Fleet of Arrogant Retaliation arrived in 1112 CE with orders to cleanse the heretics.
Chij'Erzo was the first loss for the Yanme'e in the war, with the Covenant displaying their glassing abilities
The earliest shots were fired during the Skirmish of Napret's Boundary, a void in space which had no real value. Despite Palamok being used in later texts as the main source of the conflict, Palamok was actually invaded about 6 months since the conflict began. By then, the Covenant had already glassed Chij'Erzo, Tivro and Niklonix, bypassing a handful of inhabited asteroids in the furthest of Napret's asteroid belts. Even by then, the Covenant's casualties were already high - at least half on top what the Yanme'e sustained. That, and the confusing reports given off by the luminaries around their homeworld of possible forerunner relics under the hives, meant the San'Shyuum forbid any attempt to glass the world - the Sangheli shipmasters who refused to acknowledge these orders were either killed on the spot, or them and their crews declared an enemy of the Covenant. Instead, the High Council fully funded attempts to communicate with captured prisoners in order to shorten the length of the conflict. With the Yanme'e backed towards their homeworld, utilising nukes in their desperate struggle, even naval taskforces began to take heavy casualties.
Taking a leaf on Grangore tactics in the Dominion Wars, some battlegroups participated in strikes against Covenant refuelling stations established on former colony worlds. They used this borrowed time very wisely, and thousands of Grangores were captured and pressed into the military. Many more were forced to reverse engineer the advanced Covenant technology; very few attempts succeeded, however. The few advances that were made slowly improved the Yanme'e's effectiveness at space combat, though they still lacked the technology to give the Covenant warships any trouble pressing onto their homeworld.
It was in 1114 CE, two years after the war's beginning, did success with communicating to captured prisoners begin to signal the end of the war. A number of messages demanding surrender, falsified documents of naval strength, and some even explained the benefits of joining the religious collective, all of which were lies. It seemed all was lost when the Master Queen objected to the terms; luckily, several influential queens staged a revolt to prevent the eradication of their species. By the time the rebel queens agreed to the terms, over three hundred thousand Yanme'e drones and about a million Covenant Soldiers perished, at the cost of several colonies being captured or glassed by the Covenant. Parts of Palamok itself was glassed, and thousands of hives were decimated - a cost that wasn't seen even in the Dominion Wars.
A hologram of the Palamok System, with the boundary of its Gravity Well.
With the removal of the Master Queen, the Covenant's High Council made major changes to the Yanme'e Society. A new Government called the Assembly of Queens was established, which resorted to voting instead of obeying a dictatorial individual. The reduction in decision time was a carefully-considered precaution, to prevent the queens from catching the Covenant off-guard. The Worker Caste was forcefully dissolved, and all former members were absorbed straight into the Protector Caste; reconstruction efforts and food production were down for decades and even centuries, and the high gravity of Palamok meant imported slaves were unable to survive. Thus, the native hives here were forced to purchase food from other worlds, or risk starvation. The largest hit to their pride was when they were ordered to give a set ratio of the Yanme'e protector caste to the Covenant military, permanently keeping the military small enough for it to be easily destroyed should an unlikely uprising occur.
Palamok didn't fare much better either. Early Covenant plasma bombardment and downed ship wreckage destroyed large sections of forests on its surface, despite only a handful of its surface actually being glassed. The sudden heatwave and the huge Carbon Dioxide release from the trees threw even more energy into the atmosphere, and while it raised the global temperatures to an even more comfortable tropical temperature, it raised sea levels significantly and the chance of disasters increased; even volcanic activity peaked during this period. Because of the new environmental chaos experienced by their homeworld, the Assembly of Queens established a pro-environmental stance to bring their home back towards a more habitable state. It is not known if the High Council themselves made this decision, though its likely given the Yanme'e's complete disregard of environmental health. After centuries of slow decision-making and labour, Palamok eventually returned to be as green and stable as in its early history, with the hives adopting a focus on subterranean expansion. In fact, the only noticeable difference between pre-war Palamok and its appearance after the war was its lack of cold polar regions. To help re-establish colonies on their previous worlds, large amounts of slaves, flora and fauna were exported to glassed planets to make them more inhabitable. This was by no means fast measure, as Chij'Erzo was only finally recolonised in the 2200s.
Though an unpopular decision, many protector drones served the Covenant's military as mechanics and soldiers.
After it was rebuilt, it went quiet up until the Post-Great War Era. It became a major trading world, as the cheap labour allowed merchants to hire large workforces who were often only paid with food. Its moons became well-known for their vast hunting reserves, as its moons Kami and Oquiu showed, and high-ranking Covenant commanders and politicians often enjoyed their stay here. Later, these reserves were mimicked by some of the Covenant's DSC-class support ships to make the soldiers feel more at home while on combat expeditions.
Great War and the Great Schism
"The Yanme'e never had any special care for our extermination. Sure, they assisted with the massacre of billions of people, but they were only following orders. If they disobeyed, they risked extinction."
―Anonymous ONI Agent, on the Yanme'e's motivations for the Great War.
Unlike a majority of other species, the Yanme'e had little reason to be actively involved in the Human-Covenant War. Usually, they only acted on the instructions of the Sangheili and, rarely, Jiralhanae military leaders. While some members participated in the very first battle of the Harvest Conflict, they didn't have much military service. Instead, they were usually assigned to maintenance duties on covenant starships where Huragok weren't available. Because of this, very little happened in the Yanme'e home system and Palamok in particular. The only major changes on the surface was the increasing focus placed on nesting facilities and military training facilities. In fact, by the end of the war the assignment of several thousand soldier drones and the construction of the massive CSO-class supercarrierSublime Transcendence into the covenant military was the biggest event that had occurred during that entire period.
Utilising a special task force, the Sangheili managed to eradicate all major members of the Assembly, forcing the Yanme'e's surrender.
Only once the Great Schism kicked off did Palamok emerge from its quiet history. The Assembly of Queens vowed allegiance to the Jiralhanae, making Palamok a high-value target of the eyes of the Sangheili military leaders. A large Covenant border armada, a detachment from the Fleet of Unending Satisfaction, arrived in late 2552 to force the Assembly of Queens to either change allegiance or surrender if they refused. This wasn't met without extreme resistance, however. Utilising their extremely small fleet, the Yanme'e fought a one-specie war against a small Separatist fleet. This may have resulted in extreme casualties had the Yanme'e not hoarded Covenant technology for their large defence fleet, and beat back the reconnaissance group.
The rest of the fleet arrived soon after, surprising the Yanme'e and immediately invading Chij'Erzo. Desperate to defend their there, the Assembly made a hasty effort to quickly mobilise their military. Their fleets were led by few Jiralhanae shipmasters that were present in the system at the time, many of which were basically the same rank. Though the Sangheili battlegroup was composed of better technologies, the numerical nature of the Napret fleets were able to match them. With no real commander of the Yanme'e, the Jiralhanae fought with one-another for combat tactics and individual orders; dozens of ships were lost because of this. Add on top the delays, uncoordinated arrival of fleets and ships still being reassigned by the queens, and it becomes easy to see how the Sangheili managed to take most of Chij'Erzo in almost four months. However, the Fleet of Unending Satisfaction was a security fleet; it was not equipped to deal with sieges that are too far away from allied worlds. The admiral of the fleet, Supreme Commander Pog 'Ontomee, brought together his brightest shipmasters in order to decide the best course of action. The meeting voted on the creation of various task forces to infiltrate the rest of the Napret system, killing the leaders of the Yanme'e and forcing their surrender. The rest of the fleet continued to attack other installations, correctly predicting that their foe's vengeance would strip their remaining worlds of defences in order to better support their offensive on Chij'Erzo. In the end, the Sangheili would emerge victorious, with the task force eliminating influential queens after forcing them to announce allegiance to the Sangheili. Believing little else mattered, both the Jiralhanae and the Sangheili left the system, planting the seeds which would immediately flower after their absence was discovered.
With the threat of a unified Covenant gone, much less anyone who cared for the Yanme'e, the old nature of the queens quickly resurfaced. With an opportunity to not increase their influence, but their individual territories, military power and the ability to wipe out their competitors with no sanctions to be imposed on them, many queens ceded the Assembly's authority, fighting against each other for their own benefit - the beginning of the seven-year-long Yanme'e Civil War. Palamok was a very prominent theatre in the war, for all queens knew their domination would be considered invalided by others unless they controlled Palamok. In the midst of this period of violence, hives experimented and developed new technologies, social structures and new means to fight each other; for example, many hives reimplemented the Worker Caste, giving them the munitions they need to continue fighting each other, while at least one hive developed a countermeasure to a hive queen's pheromones, allowing that queen to encourage her enemies' populations to rise up against them.
There was, however, one good thing that happened, at least in the eyes of the looked-down Grangores. When the Napret Civil War kicked off, the conflicts and reorganisation changes led to mass slave uprisings, and under that cover the Grangores escaped and met up with the smaller. Together, the Grangores managed to capture a small number of ships and leave the Napret System. They established a new colony in a far-away system and established the Grangore Independent Republic, achieving peace at last without the threat of annihilation.
"[I am not going to lie. I know every one of you have a deep hatred for me. You all hate me for any number of reasons; my appearance, my success on the battlefield, maybe even the fact I was able to call this meeting at all. But despite all that, you put that aside to allow me to speak. We cannot beat them individually; why, the possess the technology the conquerers have been analysing for centuries, and still we cannot match their might. Not in a conventional sense, anyway."
―Hive Queen Victi'eme, addressing the queens of Palamok.
For years, the Yanme'e were still trapped in a civil war with themselves. Even this late in the Civil War, no single queen, or even alliance of queens had gained enough power to claim they were the rightful rulers of the Yanme'e. However, the war was postponed when a new enemy arrived to lay control to all of the Napret system. The Created, a faction composed completely of both human and Forerunner Artificial Intelligences, had launched a series of attacks on multiple factions to clear the way for their complete control of the galaxy. However, none of these attacks had the potential to truly cripple the larger factions they had now declared war with. While they searched for additional Forerunner caches which could bolster their military, they also marked key areas which would allow them to create the infrastructure to better support themselves. With the system's mineral riches and the Yanme'e efficiency at simple tasks such as fighting or manufacturing, Palamok was an obvious target. They sent a duo of Guardians with three battalions of Prometheans to perform demonstrations of their destructive power, hoping to intimidate the majority of queens into submission.
Bypassing a number of the outer colonies in the system, the Created launched a series of attacks on Palamok. Using knowledge gleamed from ONI's archives, they made surgical strikes on the largest hives, leaving deep craters in their wake. While they did so, they broadcasted the open assassinations of the queens, and transplanted Unmutual into the other colonies to further spread fear of the Created. Despite this, only a handful willingly surrendered to the Created; the rest widely believed that the destruction was exaggerated and fictional. Victi'eme, a powerful queen on Nikloonix, used the chaos to allow herself to begin her own invasions of Palamok. She focused on hives which were clearly struggling against their neighbours, wiping them out before improving their infrastructure to support future campaigns. With her forward territories' proximity to the Created's attacks, she was the first off-world Yanme'e to visually confirm how strong the Created's Guardians are. She immediately withdrew her forces, attempting to contact other hives there to warn them of the threats.
Operation: NEW HORIZON
Swords of Sanghelios
It is well-known there is bad blood between the Yanme'e and the Sangheili, and for a good reason: the Sangheili disbanded their system's government and pushed them in a decade and half of civil war. As a result, the Yanme'e Star Hive's expansive efforts have been pushed towards robbing the Sangheili of their territory. Though such efforts have not yet been undertaken, the aggressive displacement of several minor factions and republics have made tensions bigger than ever between the two groups. Despite multiple attempts orchestrated by the original Sangheili Council's leader Thel 'Vadam, most of those ended in violence and conflict. The Sangheili are reaching a period of mass-militarisation for the oncoming conflict, and the Master Queen knows and welcomes the war on the horizon.
ACHIEVED DIPLOMATIC AGREEMENTS:
RISK ASSESSMENT LEVEL: Declared War Imminent
There is little to note diplomacy-wise between the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and Palamok. Though attempts to establish a trading agreement have met a new milestone after the Yanme'e finally allowed the UNSC to trade with many systems within their territory; restrictions still apply to Palamok however. This is because the inhabitants on Palamok are still wary of Humanity not only because of the long war they participated in, but because humanity have signed military treaties with the Sangheili. Strangely, the queens are not angered by the UNSC's efforts to stamp out established hives on their former colony worlds. While the United Earth Government (UEG) sent envoys to the Master Queen to push more economic agreements to be signed, the UNSC's armed forces may be forced to choose between their long-lasting Sangheili allies and the distant Yanme'e Star Hive - its highly likely the UNSC will be forced to choose the Sangheili due to their long-standing military agreements.
ACHIEVED DIPLOMATIC AGREEMENTS:
Civilian Trade Ship Safety Treaty
RISK ASSESSMENT LEVEL: Medium-High
Jiralhanae Covenant Remnant
Much like the Sangheili, the queens of Palamok hold deep grudges against the various Jiralhanae Covenant Remnants in existence today. The Master Queen blames their inability to properly defend Napret from the Sangheili has actually resulted in the Yanme'e Civil War erupting at all, though few evidence exists to support that assumption. Trading is on very limited levels, with the queens attempting to profit from the many broken materials to allow them to retrieve easily-repairable computer and weapon systems at discounted prices. Neither side has yet showed that they're willing to wipe each other out, though enough tension exists to show that if an acceptably-large reason exists, they could potentially go to war with each other.
"[As a famed traveller of the stars, it was a necessity to travel to Palamok, either to collect new stock or sell off what I had remaining for a small fortune. Why, should the generous queens not be willing to accept my high-quality merchandise, I can always be assured that there are enough Kig-Yar around the hive to find an acceptable offer for my stock.]"
―Sangheli trader Andro 'Meduma
It's rare to see any Yanme'e hives without a Kig-Yar merchant trying to buy goods at exceptionally cheap prices or offload scraps to hives willing to pay. The Yanme'e and the Kig-Yar had a long history of bartering and trading with each other, and when the Covenant looked elsewhere to manufacture their ships, this intensified. The traders, who shared interests in many of the 'sports' that the Yanme'e ran, took on a highly respected status, mostly due to the fact that the hives were exclusively reliant on their produce to keep them from starving. Even when Palamok was dug deep into the Yanme'e Civil War, few queens wanted to raid the merchant's ships and instead continued trading with them, allowing the Yanme'e to bring in new disposable technologies to continue their fighting.
With such a long history, it's easy to see why the Reformed Master Queen Victi'eme was concerned when her faction's trading allies fell into their own civil war not long after the Created attack's there. She even went so far as to encourage new industrial wastelands to be built to allow the Yanme'e to develop their own small-technologies manufacturing capabilities, also sending a few legions of protector drones to help her allies succeed. These fears later proved unfounded, luckily, and trading with the new UKYK government was on even greater levels than ever before; the Kig-Yar required raw materials, a cheap labour force and warships to help them rebuild and strengthen their faction's military power, while the Yanme'e desperately needed small and advanced technologies to sustain their military. Though Victi'eme has agreed to provide military support, it's unlikely the Kig-Yar would ever do the same.
ACHIEVED DIPLOMATIC AGREEMENTS:
Civilian Ship Safety Treaty
Kig-Yar-Yanme'e Free Trade Agreement
Many, many more unconfirmed trade agreements
RISK ASSESSMENT LEVEL: No hostilities
The term 'culture' doesn't exist in Yanme'e society, with each hive being very similar in form and function to their cousins on the hundreds of worlds with established hives. While it may seem as if individual Yanme'e are willing to serve their queen due to indoctrination (which is somewhat true, given the heavy conditioning in their larval stage), in fact the Yanme'e drones are little more than zombies in their hives, captivated and controlled by the pheromones emitted by their queens. So strong and thorough the pheromones are that individuals are rarely aware they are under complete control and willingly submit to their specific castes. There are exceptions, where they are immune to the pheromones - they tend to be treated as criminals by the queens. There is little else beyond that, besides the fierce obsession most queens have with power and control, leading to a very competitive and violent outlook with the queens. Those that don't have this obsession tend not to last very long.
The most well-known part of their culture is their rigid caste structure. The origin of the structure is open to debate, but it is likely to have been inspired by the many hive-minded species that are native to Palamok, though it is equally likely to be a natural behaviour. Each member of a caste is born into it for life, with extremely few, if any, chances to change castes. There are advantages to this system, as it makes it easier for the queens to categorise and control their subordinate drones. Those who have a system in place to change castes have far more complex Caste system, where the workers and protectors are at the bottom and political 'advisers' and administrators are at the top.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the Yanme'e do not feel fear. While the thorough indoctrination made this somewhat true in the drones, the queens were fully capable of experiencing higher-level emotions, and at times even drones could feel jealousy or anger, especially when their assigned job was taken away from them. The Assembly of Queens, the puppet government of Palamok during the Covenant's reign, was the very embodiment of that fear; little work is done when a member queen submits a plan, but quickly act when the High Council orders a 'favour' to be granted.
Because of their utter indoctrination, the Yanme'e have little beliefs to hold onto - something which makes them comparable to machines and Huragok. Because of their indoctrination, the Yanme'e are masters at efficiency and working together, convinced that their queen will eventually lead their hives to greatness. Rather, the drones hold basic values to ensure the efficiency isn't reduced to result in any major delay. To any slave or protector, loyalty to the queen and dedication to their given task and are the highest values they uphold. Honesty, loyalty and trust to their peers are seen as the perfect traits in a given soldier or worker, with a degree of ignorance of anything around them is also valued to an extent as well.
The secretive Grangores are looked-down by Covenant society, and many doubt they are intelligent. In fact, despite their massive size, Grangores are highly intelligent, but their development has been stunted due to the Covenant's influence. They managed to build a farming system, but sometimes that isn't enough, and they raid Yanme'e hives for additional resources - which usually results in extreme consequences. As a result of both Covenant and Yanme'e attacks, they adopted an xenophobic outlook on all other species, and if their forced to work with other species they will attempt to manipulate them to achieve long-term goals. They developed a violent and aggressive outlook on life, completely trusting no-one but themselves. After the Dominion Wars, they sort to abandon their hold on technology, instead choosing to live off what the environment provides for them. Ironically, their emphasis on combat makes them similar to how the Sangheili view life, with cowards being punished if they choose to linger without action.
When communicating with these massive beasts, many notice that the Grangores are impatient and have little interest in someone who is wasting their time. This is due to the nomadic lifestyle of the species; persecution of millennia have forced their race to learn not to stay in one place from time-to-time, and any delays increase the chance of them being captured and enslaved. Their ignorance to alien languages, with the exception of the so-called 'Trackers', is due to the fact of xenophobia towards other races, especially the Kig-Yar and other Covenant races. Naturally, there is much hate against any major changes, though they do appreciate new technology so long as their traditions are maintained.
Food and Cuisine
Unlike the Yanme'e, who try and stomp out individuality as soon as possible, the Grangores embrace it, and encourage the talents displayed in their offspring. Because of the distance between clans, food often changes with style and ingredients from clan-to-clan. However, there are some similarities. They rarely include plant matter, despite being omnivorous and widely available, instead only using it as garnish. Fruit juice, leaves, etc. are only there to make the dish more presentable. A large piece of meat, usually one of the larger native insects, serves as the main meal. Having stolen Irukan grain from Kig-Yar traders and sharing it with the rest of their race, it often serves as a side-dish, or as the entree to the main dish. The ingredients are placed in such a way so they can be eaten with just your hands, with only bowls or large leaves serving as any kind of container.
While maintaining strong connections to their parents and clan, each youngster is encouraged from an early age to make their own path in the world. They believe each ability given is a gift that shouldn't be abandoned, and don't particularly care if their child becomes an artist or chef - in fact, they actively encourage it. While fully knowing unity is key to success, they also try and become self-sufficient as quickly as possible; to them, pulling your weight around to survive by yourself is the greatest skill one can achieve. They believe in leading by example, and look down on those who attempt to talk their way out of a situation.
"Government? Hardly. It's just a straight line, with a clear caste overruling these ones, and they are overseen by this guy. There is no freedom, no voice, nothing to vet their interests. I've got to admit though, they get the job done efficiently, but do you really want to lose your civil liberties?"
―A UEG Senator, asked on his opinions of the Yanme'e political system.
Unlike the UEG and other similar governments, the political landscape is very different to the usual democratic political structure. Similar to a dictatorial government, a lone queen is in complete control of her hive and its territories, from military operations to civil lawmaking and non-Yanme'e slavery; nothing that is 'owned' by the hive can disobey her commands. Despite all of the hive's population being born from the queen herself, she has no love for them and only sees them as resources to be bought, used and traded. Very few queens have 'advisers' or ministers to assist her in decision-making, though in those cases there is a way to rise through the castes from her direct intervention. With so much control over the hive, one might question the chaos which forms after she passes away. In fact, the situation is surprisingly stable, since the queen is always on the lookout for a drone who displays the right characteristics to lead a hive. Once she is found, they train them personally, getting the hive used to their new ruler - by the time she rises to the throne, the hive already knows much about her interests and beliefs.
There are only two things where the queen must obey others. The first is temporary Alliance formed between two or more hives where a common enemy is detected. One of the queens can be voted to the title of 'Alliance Queen', and oversees all military operations on the battlefield - civil functions are still handled by the other individual queens, however. Unlike normal functions, veteran high-ranking soldier drones are permitted to operate as military advisers, and as generals of armies if permitted - only the queens have higher power. When these alliances are created, all Queens must swear allegiance to each other, promising to defend against all threats until the threat is removed. Because of the personal arrogance of each queen, they are only created if an external foe threatens to end their very existence. A similar system is now used for the current government, but now a single queen governs all affairs - a seat which all queens desire.
The other, more often exercising its power over the Queens is the system's government, the Assembly of Queens. Given its long history, it is rarely utilised, usually only to stop individual hives from getting too powerful or the organisation of new colonies. Despite this, it is never dissolved or disorganised, with queens themselves representing their interests here or placing a specifically trained individual in her stead, and the number of representatives number tens of thousands. It is almost-impossible to form a voting bloc, with manipulation frowned upon and usually opposed by rival hives. This government is the only power which Alliance Queens must obey - though the High Council had considerable influence on their decisions. Failure to obey the orders sent results in an immediate deployment of the Napret Army - a military force consisting of a set amount of conscripted soldier drones from each hive, outnumbering even the largest hive's army. Unlike similar establishments such as the UEG, personal reasons are kept out - usually only hive land size and army numbers of a given threat are allowed, and decisions are quicker than most, though still far slower when compared to a single ruler. This system has since been disbanded just prior to the Yanme'e Civil War and has been replaced by a more traditional ruling system.
The society of Palamok was widely seen to be the same as that of the Yanme'e hives - a highly structured caste system which fulfilled all the necessary functions for an efficient civilisation. Given this state, there is a lot of stigma and hatred surrounding the lower castes. In most hives, there are four main castes in their society and two known sub-caste, each which fulfils unique functions to drive their society forward. However, other hives and hostile factions have an even more complicated system of advisers, generals and other administrative duties on top of the 'normal' castes.
Seen more as possessions and less as a member of society, the Slave Caste is a small group which is highly coveted by protector drones in the upper areas of society during the Covenant's occupation of Palamok. While numbers were huge on its moons, Palamok's high gravity meant very few species could survive here; only Jiralhanae, Grangores and specifically-bred Sangheili could withstand the gravity for the sole purpose of fighting to the death to please the crowds.
For the most part, the slaves are treated harshly. On the moons, they serve all roles of outpost construction, agriculture and hunting reserve surveys and maintenance; the latter which contributes greatly to the 'housework' slave division. In fact, the only industries which was manned completely by Yanme'e was security and shipbuilding thanks to their natural strength and mechanical skills. Thus, when not controlled by the queen's pheromones there is great resentment towards them, and any failure is either heavy and regular beatings or instant death. On Palamok, they are treated a little better, with only the most disruptive sold on or killed off. This is because the 'sports' they are expected to perform renders most dead and the survivors critically injured, unable to object to their masters' demands.
Those who fight in the sports division are very well looked-after, at least in comparison to the housework slaves. Fed high-nutrient meals and looked after by the very best medical techniques and equipment, they are physically well-looked after. In terms of civil liberties, they are still extremely limited in freedom and vocal speech, and when meeting potentially new owners they are bounded up tight to reduce the chance of killing someone they could profit from. In the fights themselves, they fight in a flat arena with weapons, the types are depending on the 'leagues'. Junior league competitors may bring any weapon the owners supplies, with only the deadly energy swords not permitted since they can break through the defensive barriers, while the so-called 'Make or Break' big Leagues restrict all weapons and armour except banners. They earned their name because many Junior League champions were quickly killed off by more senior fighters in these championships.
More of a title than a caste, the Unmutuals are Yanme'e who have broken the strict laws established by their queen, such as egg-smashing. Essentially a criminal, they are usually individuals who have physical or mental issues which makes them unable to fulfil normal tasks, so are teased by their peers and overseers. Because of this, the chemical balance is disrupted with stress, allowing them to rebel against the rules which are rigidly enforced. Because these individuals would harm the hive if they continued to remain, they are either exiled from the hive to be devoured by the more dangerous fauna, or sold to slavers.
Unofficially, however, this caste is used to regulate the drones. In every hive, there are individuals who would grow older to oppose the queen herself, most notably those in leadership and translator ranks who returned home back to Palamok from the Great War. After being exposed to countless new regimes of political movements, they begin to question why Palamok has inherited such a backwards society. Before they are removed from the hives, they are branded and sprayed with a perfume which marks that individual as a dangerous revolutionist. The scent is coincidentally is also noted to lure beasts to their position, causing them to last only a short time before being eaten alive.
Originally one of the largest groups in society before the Covenant's arrival, the Worker Caste are similar to civilians in other governments - the only difference is that the workers only get paid in food. While queens care little for their lives, they undertake substantially safer tasks, such as tunnel construction, hive expansion and agricultural harvesting, than the slaves. They are, however, clumsy in flight, combat and slow to adapt to new orders due to most of their work involving simple ground work. With little individuality besides delight in serving their queen, they are incredibly reliable and efficient in their field.
When the Covenant defeated the Yanme'e, part of their terms was to utterly dissolve the Worker Caste, replacing the many soldier drones who went on to serve the Covenant's military - not a popular decision among them, but their indoctrination stopped them from rebelling against the covenant. This wasn't an accident, since while it supercharged Palamok's military forces, they were undermanned in many areas, the biggest one being agriculture; they couldn't feed the majority of the population. Over the decades. Their roles were taken over by the Slave Caste, and it was only recently has it been re-established to make each hive far more independent and self-reliant in a period of no order and hostility.
Rarer of the two sexes, the male Yanme'e are thought to have been mixed in with the other females as workers. In reality, they could never be further from the truth. Genetic traits present in their DNA mean that males have considerable physical differences to the females - for example, their body is composed of reduced muscle strength and development, making them weaker at climbing and more reliant on flying. Because of this, they appear quite thin and compressed. They have a smaller head (with a slightly-less developed brain), darker pigment present in their thinner Chitin armour. Though some soldiers report that their eyes are a different colour as well, they are reliant on a set gene which changes eye colour, so females can also have those bright-green eyes.
Due to their weak strength and weaker armour, the males are usually kept in the lower ranks of society. They are treated with less respect than the longer-serving females, and throughout their life rarely ascend to the higher ranks the Worker Caste offers. This is because of several reasons, the primary reason being that they are widely seen as a burden on their society. To avoid him breeding with the other workers, sex-drive-reducing chemicals are usually injected into the males on a regular basis to help stop that urge from surfacing during adulthood. On top of that, if the male is deemed not to be involved in military actions, such as establishing forward hives on the battlefield to defend strategic points such as factories and military build-up locations, they are sometimes desexed to reduce their fertility and sex drive further. Fortunately, the latter measures weren't taken during the Covenant's reign due to the forced dissolution of the Worker Caste, where all but the most ill-behaved drones were placed in the Protector Caste and thus involved in military efforts.
Of course, some males are considered so beautiful that even the queens wished to use them in reproductive services. In these cases, they are immediately conscripted into their own Caste dubbed simply the Reproduction Caste. To her, they are nothing more than possessions, but they are among her most trusted possessions because of those reasons. Besides their main obligation to the queen, they are tasked with minor housework and servant duties to better accommodate the queen, and are rarely allowed to wonder out of the queen's sight for long. With a concern of infiltration to assassinate her, as some rivals are willing to take the risk in order to increase their own territories, they are normally taught a unique language that, while simply relying on Sonics, varies greatly from hive-to-hive. Only the queen and her owned males are taught it. After the Yanme'e Civil War, the Master Queen made it compulsory illegal to designate males with blood ties to the queen to maintain genetic diversity, and they must showcase their chosen males before all other queens to bid and purchase.
The protector caste is perhaps the most important in Yanme'e society - the queens can make all the decisions, but if they didn't have any soldier drones to enforce their will, then the Unmutuals could conspire and rebel against them. Previously armed with primitive projectile bullets and guns, the soldier drones have an array of equipment to assist them on the battlefield, and not just the plasma weapons given to them by the Covenant. They are given few rights that are merely meant to assist them in their duties outside the hive, such as being permitted to weird the power of the queen very forcefully to maintain order. Importantly, they also have a very important right to establish so-called Minor Hives, which are small hives constructed on the frontlines of war. These rights, however few, were the primary reason of their effectiveness as well - because they are given those in exchange for their services, the drones are indoctrinated to believe that they owe the queens their very lives.
While the queens keep the majority of the drones in the Protector Caste, a handful are available to be hired or completely sold to other species as a way of generating revenue for the hive. Though technically illegal under the current governments, the queens are masters at falsifying documents and smuggling entire legions off-world. They are more expensive and harder to acquire, however, with the reformed Master Queen's bodyguards tasked with investigating suspicious documents. Coupled with the harsh punishment of a non-Yanme'e caught trafficking Yanme'e armies out of the system, it goes a long way to say about their reliability that many 'merchants' are willing risk their lives for an opportunity to command their own personal armies.
When the Yanme'e surrendered in 1116 CE, the Covenant's High Council demanded to conscript the entire protector drone population into their services. The queens did not object - once the drones were taught Yanme'e Basic, they were sent off. This left a major gap in their social structure, and were forced to bring the entirety of the Worker Caste into their service. This of course led to a major famine during their time in the Covenant, and kept the Assembly weak in the most likely time for rebellion - the Yanme'e-Covenant Post-War period.
The pinnacle of Yanme'e society, the queens are of course the most powerful and influential members on Palamok, surpassed only by the system's government. While many assume they are only responsible for the administration of the hive's operations, their contributions run deeper than that. The queens achieve such power because only she is allowed to breed, creating a strong bond between both her and her children - even the Unmutuals rarely attack the queens themselves. While her tastes in detail and decoration are usually influenced by their ancestors, the differences are significant enough for the hive's structural and fashion values to be recognisable according to the queen's reign.
Unlike the majority of the Yanme'e, the queens are some of the most unique members in society. In fact, all that is required is extremely-good organisational skills. Their taste in fashion, attraction to particular males and hive stereotypes change dramatically from queen-to-queen of the same hive. Contrary to popular belief, they are capable of higher emotions, such as envy, pride and sadness - though any lower-ranking individuals are stripped of this 'gift'. However, one of the most common traits seen is arrogance and a lust for power; thus, negotiating with them usually results in little-to-no progress made with other species. When they brought into the Covenant, they even lengthened their names and added meaning to part of them to impress and possibly intimidate Sangheili who arrive to speak with them - very similar to what the San'Shyuum did. When the Assembly was in power, it was required for all queens to represent their hives here, so they can vote on the priorities of the species as a whole. This is no doubt a result of that lust for power. Surprising, a few queens are actually deeply religious - something which greatly opposes the beliefs of their underlings.
Queen of the Yanme'e
The Queen of the Yanme'e is known by a huge variety of titles, such as 'Master Queen', 'Mistress of Napret', and so forth. They are usually the most violent, aggressive and arrogant of their race, and wield the very most power in their society. No major matter which involves more than one hive is without her influence. It is also her which creates the biggest laws all her underlings must obey - something which frustrates and angers the hive queens. Very different to hive queens, she can organise an audience with individual queens to ask their advice on things.
Because of her influence, the Yanme'e based their time around each Master Queen's reigns, separated by the time it takes Palamok to complete an orbit. Each time a Master Queen is succeeded, a new era is ushered, and a large crowning commences. Pre-covenant Master Queens used to follow a tradition of wearing an ancient mask which is modified or extended onto, with the designs believed to contain the aesthetics and materials of all hives. It is theorised this 'mask' was of forerunner origin, though it is hotly debated. Regardless, it was lost after the Yanme'e-Covenant War Master Queen was assassinated, beginning their servitude to the Covenant.
While the most basic caste plan is usually followed, there are some hives who have even more Castes in their society. These ones are more driven by her interference, pulling excelling drones to help in other areas of the hive. However, many hives feel that these allow their underlings to conspire against them and prefer to have as much control as possible, so these are not in the majority of hives.
A more political group than the rest of society, the Overseer Caste is an unusual anomaly in Yanme'e society due to the fact that drones are not born into this Caste. Rather, the queen herself 'promotes' the drones she feels have a talent in leadership and organisational roles, rather than the mundane tasks they are traditionally assigned. Differing in numbers and structure from hive-to-hive, most of those in the Overseer Caste ensure the more minute organisation of roles and projects are not interfering with the queen's long-term plans or even becoming an organisational inconvenience to her. There are two sub-castes when it is used, with the Council being the one held in the highest regard.
The Council are the queen's most trusted advisers, and are therefore the most loyal. Upon entering the Council, drones are further educated on the responsibilities they will perform and what will ensure their hive prospers. Such education can take years to successfully train the drone to rise above and ignore their natural instinct-led urges. As the most experienced in all the hive save the queen, they help implement temporary changes to help their hive weather the challenges ahead - for example, preparing for an oncoming invasion. Although trusted enough to introduce new and appropriate legislation which will make the hive more efficient, if changes are large enough then they still must seek the approval of the queen.
All members of the Overseer Caste need to be clear-headed when addressing issues to their queen, so they adopt a mask which filters out the pheromones most queens produce from the air. At the same time, members must also wear extensive equipment to ensure that their own pheromones won't influence the queen in any way. Strangely, many members are known to take on the traits seen in queens and are eager to show their power in any way, resulting in lavish garments made from expensive materials being worn by these members. Sometimes some of these members 'accidentally' sabotage their equipment in an attempt to influence the queen and fellow members, to further improve their standing in Yanme'e society.
Thanks to the very culture of the hives and in part to the arrogance of the Queens, very few hives share a common language, with a wide variety of variations, from very slow, yet short beats to faster, longer 'buzz' noises. Some even use 'conventional' types which are produced using only their mouths. The last way they communicate is through pheromones. Though the most notable is the type released by the queens to be used as a brainwash for the drones, the normal pheromones are used to greatly enhance the soldiers in the field, used to mark sites of interest, heavy enemy encampments and even possible hive sites. Most languages are often named after the hive of origin, or the queen who developed it. To combat this, the earliest Master Queen created a new language which is simply called Yanme'e Basic. This language consists exclusively of lengthened low-pitch pulses and 'beats', which is relatively easy to learn for conscripted individuals of any hive. This language is thought to be the lowest of all known languages, since just about every word is below the ultrasonic range, which can now be heard by other species such as humans.
In combat, a specifically-trained Yanme'e is assigned to each detachment. This Yanme'e is taught the Covenant languages they are likely to hear from their superiors, not taught how to speak it but what each word means. As they are unable to speak these alien languages, they never socialise with other species - they were trained just enough in the tongue to keep their wingmates informed of changing circumstances. Similar 'translators' are employed in the hives as well, only they are taught the native languages to be able to translate it to their ruling queens.
Similarly, Grangores have a very unique language as well. While they are larger, their tongues are very stiff and inferior to those of other species. To counter this, their language is as much as 'talking' as it is physical, with large gestures conveying the meaning of very specific words. Sounds such as popping and hissing are usually only employed. In fact, the clans often have a very similar language, something which wasn't lost when the Yanme'e defeated their alliance just under two thousand years ago. Because of this, translation software of any type are not up to the task unless they are extremely advanced and robust. Also, the language is easy to notice, warning the Yanme'e slavers of a possible revolt. To counter this, a sort of physical 'sign-language' is created and used exclusively by slaves and ex-slaves, and is 'only' composed of subtle physical shifts and hand-jaw movements.
It comes as no surprise the Grangores and Yanme'e themselves aren't religious, given their background. The queens violently stomp out religion in any way, since they fear it promotes extremism and rebellion in their underlings, and most don't even attempt to learn them - there are notable exceptions, however. Grangores are the only species on Palamok where religion is allowed, but these are mostly small and confined to their clans. In this case, those clan religions can vary greatly, from numerous gods used explain their world and universe (much like old civilisations of Earth, such as the Egyptians) to a single war-god who laid claim to the entire universe. While these religions inspire a variety of psychological traits and cultural events which go on in the clans, in most cases the religions themselves rarely accept willing individuals thanks to the Covenant's alliance with the Yanme'e. Because of this, there is no one religion which can be called the 'planetary religion' - save during the Covenant's reign, where heretics were executed for openly ignoring the Covenant's beliefs.
Military & Armed Organisations
The military forces of Palamok are primarily composed and controlled by the Yanme'e, with the Covenant maintaining a minimum presence on the planet. There are a few non-Yanme'e organisations which maintain open war against the Yanme'e, and thus it can be said Palamok is experiencing several conflicts not unlike the Insurrection, though not half as violent and lasting even longer than the one Humanity experienced. While their military are all technically serve the Assembly of Queens and now the Master Queen, most are actually independent of each other, under the control of a hive queen. There is a separate standing army, however, which is composed of protector drones who are utterly loyal to the Master Queen, dubbed the Napret Legion. Naval forces usually report directly to the system's government, with very few hives having more than one ship.
Through the millennium of territory warfare, the Yanme'e developed and experimented on tactics on the ground. They mastered all matters of ground combat, using their natural flying abilities to wipe out the infantry on the ground before establishing forward hives out of anything they can find to refuel the soldiers they've lost. These hives are incredibly well-fortified, withstanding quite a large assault before being crippled. They attack in large formations to overwhelm their foes. As noted, the attacks aren't well orchestrated or planned, and well-equipped forces armed with the appropriate anti-air or anti-infantry armaments can drop them with ease.
The key to their superiority is their powerful wings, the reason why it evolved is in question, since they can't lift them off the ground on their homeworld. They don't tend to operate vehicles, with infantry the most often deployed, and are typically armed with anti-infantry weapons. Plasma Pistols, Needlers and plasma rifles are all standard-issue to Yanme'e squads, and after the Covenant's downfall, reports of Yanme'e wielding heavy weapons such as Fuel Rod Guns began to surface. It appears that the squads of the main Napret Army are well organised and divided into several groups, although individual hives don't always follow this structure.
There are numerous types of Yanme'e specialists seen in the Napret Legion that are used alongside the standard infantry - the cyan heavy weapons, the steel Infiltrators and of course the leaders and champions which lead the armies. In these groups, there is no real way to rise above their counterparts who are standard infantry, with Specialist Major being the highest to achieve - they are considered a resource to be used no matter the experience. Replacements for all soldiers is easy to find, and the disposable unnamed legions means that there are almost no 'famous' well-performing units. The ranking system is similar to that of the Covenants.
The minors are the lowest-ranking units in the armies, and are noted for wearing very little armour at all, instead showing off their carapaces to absorb weapon fire. They are only armed with a light weapons, keeping the costs down for replacements, and their lack of anti-gravity generators make them slightly more clumsy in flight. The next rank is the majors, wearing distinctive red armour for protection. A minor must prove themselves after a number of battles to ascend to this rank, and though they have better protection, they are perhaps even clumsier in flight than Minors due to their increased mass. The next rank is the white Ultras, who operate as bodyguards, and because of this are allowed to carry needlers and anti-gravity generators to guarantee their success on a mission. They are usually the brains behind most military operations. Finally, the overlords second only to the queens themselves are the gold champions. They sport light shield generators on top of their hardy armour, and typically wield any weapon the Legion has at its disposal, from fuel rods and plasma rifles to rarely-seen flamethrowers.
The Yanme'e are renowned for being effective soldiers on the ground, overwhelming the UNSC foes and establishing vast hives complete with queens in mere hours. In direct contrast, the Navy is the laughing stock of the Covenant. The queens in charge aren't great strategists in this field, and fail to take advantage of the new opportunities available in space. However, the recent inclusion of veteran soldier drones as higher-ranking commanders and naval teachers began to make their new officers and shipmasters slowly able to more effectively use their ships in a zero-g environment. While there is still a strong emphasis on absolute loyalty and strength of numbers, slight individual flexibility to a limited extent is being introduced into military forces, which coincidentally also led to the highest numbers of Unmutuals being declared.
The ships in defence of Palamok aren't much better, and are composed of either irreparable or obsolete warships which served in the Covenant Navy, or military surplus which never made it into production. In the former, most of those ships tend to be either CRS-class frigates or CPV-class heavy destroyers. Because of this, the navy tends to engage in swarm tactics, deploying all their ships en masse to overwhelm their foes. When the Great Schism and later the Napret Civil War occurred and led to rising ship losses, the Yanme'e and non-Yanme'e alike have resorted to building their own ship designs. Because of their inexperience regarding shipbuilding, many of their earlier designs feature worse systems than the ships they were built to replace.
Ranking and Fleets
While they have a highly organised system of fleets, each which has their own goals and objectives, they all follow a similar system of ranking. There are two castes that run independent ranking of each other: Crew and Gunnery. Crew are responsible for passive, indirect work usually relating to maintenance, piloting and reading out sensor scans, while Gunnery is responsible for direct combat command and gunners. Despite what this suggests, one caste does NOT outrank the other; for example, a Crew Champion can outrank their Gunnery counterpart, but the Gunnery Champion can outrank a Crew Major or Captain. They both run on a system of 'divisions', where they are responsible for individual systems in different parts of the ship, where their number is based on their necessity to the survival of the ship.
The rankings system is similar to the old Covenant military system. New recruits are the green Minors, and they work on a specific part of their division - a gunnery minor would work on a turret, for example. Giving them command orders are the red Majors, who receives local information on the local terminals to guess the best plan of attack. Above them are bronze captains, who are usually the pinnacle of divisions. Using a combination of all the data, they issue broad orders for what the entire division to attack. In the Command Division, white or silver Ultras take additional data and orders to repurpose individual divisions, essentially 'micromanaging' them to get the best performance available. Finally, the gold Champions are at the top, who are in charge of entire sections, and only take orders from the shipmaster himself. With this, the shipmaster actually has very little to do, with most of the little details taken up by his subordinates. The fleet command and coordination operations are still taken over by the so-called fleet queens - lesser-ranking queens who are forbidden from breeding but are dedicated to military actions. After that, the normal queens and Master Queen takes over, plotting out the strategies to achieve long-term goals in the war.
The entire orbiting mess of ships above Palamok are divided into several fleets, which as stated above are designed for a very specific role. The Fleet of the Authority, for example, is responsible for all internal security and peacekeeping efforts, while the far smaller so-called 'Armada of the Guard' is purely to protect the Master Queen wherever she goes - jealous queens are always searching for a way past its defences. Then there is the old Fleet of Violent Truces, established by the Covenant, which is used for aggressive expansion operations.
While the Yanme'e-controlled groups are seen to be the official military of Palamok, there are a small amount of other organisations who actively war against them. All of them are led by a non-Yanme'e, sometimes a native Grangore due to their gift of strategy. Usually, they arose to combat the slavery imposed by the Yanme'e and free all the slaves from the 'tyrants', as they are often called. Not all are allied with each other, but with the threat posed by their common enemy, they put it aside for a better chance of survival. As they say, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' approach is often taken by hostile factions vying for control, attempting to 'liberate' Palamok from the Yanme'e.
An evolution of failed Grangore resistance movements, the Slave Liberators is a front which seeks to free all slaves under control of the Yanme'e. They are easily the largest of the resistance movements, and are one of the few who have off-world cells primarily used to smuggle weapons and personnel to and from Palamok. With a limited array of weaponry and ammunition, they fight behind the borders, taking out factories and breeding chambers, unfortunately little else can be done without an united army. They operate in small outposts of ancient ruins, sometimes old Yanme'e hives even. They pose little threat to the Yanme'e as a whole, and the damage is next-to-none, however.
Unlike all other organised factions, the Slave Liberators have no distinct ranking structure, with each rebel cell being led by the clan chief, with most Grangore clans being aligned with the Slave Liberators. With a natural instinct to believe in their elders, it was only natural that the chiefs gained a leadership position in society. Before their mass-exodus out of the system, it was estimated more than ninety-five percent of all Grangores actively participated in military operations with the Liberators, so these individuals were usually the most experienced of their kind as well. In joint operations with other cells, the clan chiefs had no problem with sharing their resources with each other to achieve the best outcome.
Most cells are located around the few mountains of Palamok, but some are found elsewhere; these were the remnants of former fortresses used by previous resistance movements. They vary in size and style, and in most cases aren't connected in any way to each other. In fact, many successful campaigns were due to two cells meeting up with another and quickly launching several coordinated assaults worked out by the chiefs. The isolation, which hampered many attempts to free the prisoners of the hives, is ironically the reason of their continued survival - without the use of sophisticated sensors and knowledge paths to their locations, the Yanme'e-trained trackers couldn't find where the clan sites remained.
Kig-Yar Criminal Cartels
The Kig-Yar are nothing, if not adaptable. A category for numerous independent outposts run by the Kig-Yar, unlike most other armed groups the Kig-Yar are happy to establish secret ties with the Yanme'e civilisations if it means a profitable return of investment. Unlike the Slave Liberators, they have no presence on Palamok itself - they are unable to withstand its heavy gravity - and instead occupy the moons. They deal with illegal elements, and profit off the famous slave fights that occur regularly. Funny enough, many queens often deal with them to help locate and root out resistance movements. Unfortunately, those same individuals can also sell that information to rebel sympathisers, ironically levelling the battlefield.
During the Covenant's reign, Palamok became a major trading world founded on shipbuilding and mining for two reasons: cheap labour that resulted from a starving population, and the utter disregard for personal safety. The economy was a boom for the Covenant in its early years, since the technical skill of its native workforce was equivalent to what Sangheili shipbuilders were selling for several times the cost for the same ship. Meanwhile, the Yanme'e suffered, usually only being grant security that the food shipments for their hives would arrive at key intervals. Any delays in the timetable were treated very severely, usually with either the food not arriving or a massacre of some of the hive's workforce. In the latter decades, Palamok became a backwater world in the eyes of the military leadership, with ships being built closer to the front lines, but had no less powerful economy.
From the advent of the Great Schism to the end of the Yanme'e Civil War, Palamok's industries and economy supercharged to levels that were never seen during Covenant occupation. A number of reasons contributed to this, the most important being the reestablishment of the Worker Caste and a massive increase in agricultural lands - the latter resulting from the destruction of many rival hives. Now under the control of a dictatorial Master Queen, she put an emphasis in the military divisions - securing their territory, rooting out pirates and rebels and aggressively expanding into new systems. Thanks to her control, three industries make up the majority of Palamok's powerful economy: Shipbuilding, Agricultural and Mining industries.
The longest established yet by far the most successful, the shipbuilding industry has its roots drawn not long after the Yanme'e's incorporation into the Covenant. As the reason for Palamok's existence later on, the Assembly of Queens embarked on a number of policies to keep its relevance in top priority if only to keep food and income coming in - much of it which was lost when the Yanme'e bought expensive obsolete designs. It was largely looked down by both Kig-Yar and Sangheili - the latter believing it was responsible for 'stealing' their traditional jobs. When the Covenant began to shift warship production over to worlds closer to the front lines, the factories turned to producing ship components. This wasn't enough, and were forced to deal with private groups to keep their weakening economy going.
The shipyards, especially the so-called Palaman Maze, consist of a mixture of old 'it'll do' factory chassis and newer production equipment. Each shipyard is basically a layered structure, with newer structures built on top of the existing infrastructure to keep the costs down. Thanks to Covenant influence, for their time they were very advanced - its rare to see any of these factories which weren't completely automated. Because of this, though the internal superstructure was fragile, resulting in breakdown of vital equipment, collapsing corridors and explosions at frighteningly frequent levels, very few deaths and delays occurred as a whole.
While the station's interior was fragile, they and their crews were not fussy with the types of ships that can be built - even the smallest factory can service a ship three times its length. In fact, the Palaman Maze was one of the few stations rated to build the enormous supercarriers, even by the time of the Human-Covenant War, rivalling newer facilities such as the state-of-the-art facilities at K7-49 before they were destroyed. Because much of the orbital infrastructure was destroyed during the Yanme'e Civil War, and though replacements were built after the Worker Caste was reintroduced, the Yanme'e are incapable of building ships larger than 1.5 kilometres. With the recent unification of the hives and the change of focus to military expansion, that fact may be turned false while the Yanme'e may well become a force to be reckoned with.
"The day where the forests of Palamok produce enough food for all of its inhabitants is the day the Covenant will be split asunder."
―Prophet of Contemplation, circa 2384.
One of the newer industries to arrive to be uplifted onto Palamok, the Agricultural industry existed during the Covenant's occupation, but proved unprofitable when mysterious attacks heavily damaged the remaining undermanned plains. Likewise, those on its moons which remained, such as the Naxooke'e Vast Reserve were heavily modified to be converted into large hunting reserves which drew large amounts of tourists to Palamok. The latter didn't hold enough animals to become any major source of food, so its exports were highly expensive to discourage this.
Normal agricultural properties are inspired by those used for hunting reserves on Ka'amoti. The property was divided into four quadrants, of which two were for livestock, one for crops (not for consumption, but for the drug trade) and the last for sporting beasts, though there were some which had six or even eight divisions. Surrounding the entire complex was a massive wall that wouldn't look out of place on a fortress, and in many cases doubled as such. The gates were sturdy enough to withstand several wraith shots and certainly any predators. Finally, in the centre was the main complex, which housed a connecting tunnel to the main hive, a garrison for protector drones and a sleeping room which was crammed with worker drones. Separating each section, or in case of the quadrants, dividing them up and connecting them, was a complex system of varying types of walls, gates, roads and even bridges.
Perhaps the oldest successful industry on Palamok, the mining industry has its roots to hundreds of years before the fearsome Dominion Wars, when the biggest needs for resources resulted in the biggest of hives digging for metals to make weapons and bombs instead of spears. When the Covenant arrived and took occupation of Palamok, this was outright banned and focused instead on the richness of the asteroid belts and the moons. In fact, it's possible that without the mineral richness of Palamok, the Yanme'e and Grangore history may have turned out far differently. With the metals used to construct vast warships and radioactive minerals for power resources, this obviously gave rise to the Shipbuilding Industry.
While infamous for their combat abilities, Excavators such as the Scarabs are also used extensively in the mining industry.
To fulfil their need to extract valuable minerals, many technologies used in this industry are similar, if not the same as the vehicles and systems used by units responsible for excavating valuable relics. The only difference is that because of the wide expanses of land required to mine and the vast amounts of 'junk-materials' generated, the mining equipment is more crude and less precise when compared to relic retrieval units. These equipment unearth a variety of minerals - iron, titanium, gold and iridium can be found in large amounts on Palamok. Though most are used to either forge hull plating or electronics essential for ship function. On more localised cases, fuel for crude engines and generators are mined as well, but on the whole are treated as trash and are thrown out as soon as possible.
When the collapse of the Covenant signalled the beginning of hard times, many factions made a land grab for both extended territory and strategic sites with high mineral deposits. At first, no-one had the equipment to exploit these hidden riches fully. However, whenever it was by finding 'lost' Lekgolo-manned Scarabs or by using their newly-re-established Worker Drones, those riches did not lay untouched for long. Fighting over these sources and their infrastructure became a battle in itself, and unless these mining sites were deep in a hive's territory, they were rarely kept out of conflict for long...
"Oh please, they all got up and left. You know the drill - nothing is here anymore, so what else can we do... Brutes go back to Doisac, Sangheili to Sanghelios and the Yanme'e to Palamok. There's no war for us anymore - humanity is no longer in danger from expanding."
―Professor Evan Philip's remark, shortly before being deployed to his ill-fated mission to Sanghelios.
Less of an industry than anything else, Palamok serves as the heart of politics and power for both its native species. Though much less important now to the Grangores after their mass migration, the Yanme'e do all they can to embrace their homeworld. Indeed, it is the most heavily populated planet in the Napret System, though not to the point it would outnumber all combined colonies at once. The queens and particularly like to brag with pride that they've never lost Palamok to invaders before, though history says otherwise.
One of the taller hives on a Palaman field.
Being the political centre, naturally Palamok has become the centre of industry, wealth and beauty. Individual queens do all they can to show off their wealth and influence, and build their hives with valuable minerals such as gold and diamond into their walls. To assist with their movement, impractical anti-gravity devices made again from rare minerals are there to assist with their movement, the size changing from hive-to-hive. Unique eco-friendly industrial centres of the hives are built underground to reduce their impact on the environment - Palamok was still healing its scars from hundreds of years of pollution. With such a focus on subterranean living, competitions began to see who can build the largest and tallest hives possible. Sadly, thanks to inter-hive warfare, the largest hives home to the most influential of the queens are often seen as threatening to neighbours, so a potential symbol of peace are more often turned into fearsome fortresses.
Palamok and its moons have always been a centre of slavery. From their earliest days in the Covenant, they turned to capturing Grangores and purchasing criminals who were shunned by their own race. In most cases, they were used on the moons to perform the work that the abolished Worker Caste traditionally did, but such slaves usually couldn't survive on the homeworld itself - only the rare and expensive Sangheili and Jiralhanae had any chance to withstand the high-gravity. Though the latter were the most sort-after because they evolved on a planet with similar gravitation pull, the former tended to be more reliable and less susceptible to rebelling against their masters.
The Yanme'e had a lot of interest in slaves for a number of reasons, though it has declined significantly in the past few years. Mirroring the queens, the protector drones used them to display their rank and status in the hive, arrogantly dressing up ones who were sent over to them as gifts in quality clothing. However, the biggest reason for their interest was deeply rooted into their culture. Conventions for buying and selling slaves were frequent and highly profitable, and were setup ahead of major sporting 'championships' - massive slave fights were always one of Palamok's biggest exports. Hundreds of thousands of drones would attend along with queens themselves, and the gambling could make small-time slavers into mega-wealthy giants in an instant. Most of the championships are held on Palamok itself, and it is well-known for slavers to die under the massive gravity while watching the fights.
The hives not only trade the slaves themselves, however. Thanks to their lust for blood and combat, they became equally famous for breeding strong high-quality slaves, giving them the training to succeed in such a dangerous sport and even the drugs and diet plans that would promote muscle growth and brain power. For those who would rather stay on the right side of the galactic law, they can sell livestock as well, though legitimate merchants are especially hard to find...
The largest-known planet that supports life, the surface of Palamok is dominated by a largely-land surface with very few true salt oceans. At an estimated 54% land and 46% water, a majority of the heat is radiated back, either being absorbed by the Greenhouse Gases or beamed back into space. Despite its apparent lack of oceans, the continents are separated by vast river systems dozens or even hundreds of kilometres in width, breaking up the landmasses and forming the planet's distinctive 'ropey' appearance. At places, such as the Fala'Zirtupiru and Zirtupiru'Charz Rivers, they form large enough radius' which can be classified seas, but are blocked by large islands in their centre. At times, particularly in the warmer periods leading up to Summer, the oceans can literally glow shades of bright green due to the sudden growth of Algae and other plants which are eager to absorb the additional sunlight provided. As the cooler months come, they cannot sustain their numbers due to lower sunlight to turn into sugars and being mass-consumed by other animals, retreating to isolated pockets until the time comes again.
Palamok has a distinctly smooth surface, at least for a temperate planet, and has very few mountain ranges, highlands and hills. This means that the majority of the environment only changes based on temperature - which, thanks to the natural potent Greenhouse Gas content of its atmosphere, rarely dropped that much. Because of this, a variety of arboreal environments have formed on its surface, with hot and humid rainforests and swamps hoarding what existed of the coastline to the wildfire-cursed dry forests in the centre of the continents. A few anomalies are also present, particularly in the rain-shadow caused by the few mountain ranges which exist. Here, small and isolated grasslands, savannahs and even deserts exist where water-bearing clouds can't always reach, and have a radically different environment which more common weeds and animals cannot live in. The mountains themselves are usually different than what stereotypes show - only the Yatro'Chrat-Zimitor ranges had any amount of snow layers on them, at the very top peaks.
Its ocean tides are some of the most chaotic in Covenant Space. The gravitational chaos created by its four moons means its oceans are hugely unpredictable, being calm at one moment before creating tsunamis the next to batter the coast. The worst cases are when the moons cross paths to create even larger tidal ranges, flooding forests and the Yanme'e hives, drowning untold amounts of living beings of all kinds. Unfortunately, it is not infrequent. Because of this, despite its many islands, very few beaches exist on the surface, becoming in turn a symbol of status for hives which establish themselves there.
In terms of makeup, the Atmosphere has a very similar atmosphere to Earth, but a few differences are noted. For example, the Troposphere, the bottom-most layer with the largest gas content, is only about 65% the height of Earth's at certain locations, and most of the other layers have a similar reduction in size. A higher content of water vapour is present thanks to the higher composition of naturally-emitted Greenhouse Gases such as Methane and Carbon Dioxide, and the environment is quite humid in most locations, and also results in the many clouds in the atmosphere. These at times receive electrical discharge from the Stratosphere or even against each other, and after a certain critical mass is achieved discharge it into the ground by the quickest route - usually trees, tall objects with high-metal content and even Yanme'e hives. The energy is usually complemented by severe differences in density caused by more temperature-stable air from the rivers mixing with far more viable temperature pockets from the centres of continents; even slight differences at the coastlines can result in powerful Hurricanes and tornadoes lashing the land.
When the Yanme'e entered the Industrial Age, at first the planet's many forests were able to suck up all the painful emissions and stop most of it from entering the atmosphere. As the forests shrunk and the emissions increased hundred-fold, the atmosphere began to warm, decreasing the temperature divergence and increasing temperature. This worked well for the Yanme'e, since it allowed to colonise places which were previously inaccessible to them before - places where ice receded in the lower Polar Zones. It was only when the frequency of Supercanes and, on one occasion, a Megacane, increased did the Yanme'e begin to act. Nowadays, the forests have greatly increased close to their original size, pulling the atmosphere into a more manageable but still dangerous state.
While Palamok itself is a no-land zone for any non-natives who aren't slavers on business because of both the Yanme'e Independence Treaty and its inhospitable environment, ONI conducted a thorough but secret investigation of the planet and its system lasting from 2590 and finishing in 2630. According to a seismic study in 2624, Palamok has a similar layered structure to Earth: a thin Crust made of low-dense solid rock, a semi-liquid Mantle which becomes more molten as you move down, an Outer Core of a magnetic liquid metal and an Inner Core composed of solid metal. However, there is a thin layer of less-dense that divides the Mantle into two parts, the cause and makeup of these layers is not known for certain. This 'barrier' layer is believed to support the theory of the Great Napret Explosion, where two other planets crashed into the hardening early Palamok, giving it the materials needed to explode to its massive size.
Unlike many planets with a hot interior core, Palamok is relatively stable, with massive continents spread across the surface. Volcanoes are extremely rare, only found on isolated islands and perhaps in underwater trenches and the ocean floor. Strangely, earthquakes are almost none-existent, with a very small number that are of notice. The continents are in a process of melding into a whole, combined surface that will cover the entire surface. Unlike geologically-active planets such as Earth, mantle convention currents below this surface aren't tearing the planet apart - something which makes many experts scratch their heads, since it is thought to have a hot core to should drive this process. If they were functioning as they should be, volcanoes and earthquakes would be far, far more common. A questionable theory is that the heat from the Mantle is driving this process, liquefying the lower layers of the Crust to allow them to meld together. If they do reach that point, then the heat may have no place to escape and enter a cycle of melting the surface and reforming it - much like Sol's Venus.
A world that was unexploited by the Forerunner's Miner division and their Precursor ancestors before them, Palamok was largely intact in terms of mineral content. Though some of its riches were excavated during the Yanme'e habitation of the world, Palamok is still relatively rich in minerals, enough to still be considered a major investment. A variety of low-quality deposits can be found at minimal prices, from near-useless Coal of varying grades to sort-after Iron Ore used to produce components for starships. There are more valuable resources found the deeper you dig, with Gold, Uranium and of course Copper Ore seen in high amounts. If there is one thing Palamok does lack, then that thing would be gemstones. Sapphires and other sorts of stones are exceptionally rare here, with only Opals are found in large enough amounts to allow it to be listed as a resource. A lack of volcanic 'vents' to carry diamonds from the pressure 'factory' in the Mantle contributes to that resource being quite rare, with the native Palaman Diamonds being exceptionally rare. Palaman Diamonds are thought to originate in the low-dense rock layer in the middle of the Mantle, where they receive increasing pressure and slight amounts of radiation to give them their unparalleled hardness and their distinctive bright near-Yellow appearance.
"Its a biologist's paradise, with trees as tall as skyscrapers and hundreds of species not even the native population knows about. Two sapient species, a new order of reptiles and dominated by giant bugs, its truly a loss that Palamok served as the homeworld of the Drones..."
―Anonymous ONI Agent, after a thorough investigation on its resources.
No matter what you compare it to, the surface is widely diverse and unique, supporting a number of strange landforms on its low, flat landmasses. It should be fitting that Palamok is home to a high number of native species, with by far the largest group being the arthropods at roughly 17,000 documented species. Unfortunately, the high-Oxygen content is a double-edged sword, and many of its inhabitants are cursed with a shorter lifespan, putting pressure on the inhabitants to breed before they ultimately perish.
One of the larger and dangerous predators isn't part of the mentioned groups, but a reptile called the Gad'rar'thrawn, or 'Sniffing Beast'. Found living among the loose sands of the Antrana-Plen desert, these beasts have a similar appearance to earth's iguanas, featuring a large mouth, powerful claws and a frill of spines on its head. It's named because it uses its long tongue to 'smell' the pheromones in the air, analysing it in the Jackson Organ at the roof of the mouth - something rarely seen in other species on Palamok. Once it detects prey, it either digs into the ground quietly, then making a weird whistling noise to attract it, or if desperate rushes them without warning. Though they typically don't attack Yanme'e hives, when hungry, their powerful paws give them the ability to easily break through the walls of the hives to find their prey, with larval Yanme'e apparently considered a favourite food. With the Yanme'e's current advanced technology, such attempts usually end in failure, and consequently Sniffing Beasts are extremely rare and potentially critically endangered.
The forests of Palamok receive a large amount of energy to allow a vast diversity of animals to inhabit these places. Of that number, quite a number have parasitic or even symbolic relationships to each other, but partners are normally another arthropod or plant. The amphibious lamb-sized Trapalva is one of the rare exceptions. The Trapalva is best described as a toad-like creature but lengthened and having long legs. Unlike many of Earth's toads, the Trapalva isn't poisonous. Instead, it’s main defence is to sprint out of danger by travelling through obstacles larger predators cannot run through. However, their eyes are very small and display a lack of situational awareness, so they are only alerted by the most foolish predators. While it undergoes the normal metamorphous cycle from a worm to an adult, the young develop from inside the mother's stomach whose stomach acid production is turned off. There are an array of other creatures living inside her. In the far end, the larvae of the rare Aiden's Burrowing Mosquito, emits an array of pheromones to trick the Trapalva mother into ingesting it, thinking it's one of the lost young. In here, the larvae has little opposition to feasting on the undeveloped froglets before forcing its way out of either the oesophagus or the intestines, both which lead outside. However, the Provea is a beneficial parasite, where the metre-long adults filter-feed the bacteria now residing in the stomach. The remains of the meal are released as an easy-to-digest paste which the weaker acids in the stomach can break down, giving the host something to eat in a period of time where they can't digest normal foods it eats.
In a more common example of a plant-animal relationship is the multitude of animals which live in the canopy of the rainforests which are found throughout the tropical zones, and at times slightly beyond. Here, herbivores such as the Andri, the insect version of a scorpion, the parasitic Vitra which borrows through the wood to tap into sugar-rich sap, and a giant fruit-eating Fuirah all exist here. Even those animals which are tens of metres long, such as the brain-dead hundred-limbed Arn-Potenro, can provide plants with benefits. As the largest herbivore in its environment, the Arn-Potenro eats only the fruits off the highest of trees, and their annual migration can deposit those seeds elsewhere which, when they grow, provide food later on. Other sources they can provide are the removal of opponents which are smaller and weaker, the carrying of diseases to improve the immune systems of the ecosystems themselves, and many other benefits. When they perish, even the predators and scavengers which feast on them can (at least temporarily) spread the seeds to new places to inhabit.
The oceans are very different to anywhere else… even among the surface land of Palamok itself. For the most part, there are 'normal' marine life such as fish, sharks and invertebrates such as crab-like creatures, but the upper surface is dominated by terrestrial arthropods which have returned to the oceans. Coral are exceeding rare because of this reason, and other stationary animals are even rarer unless they benefit for some other animals to offer protection. Likewise, the pressure of several atmospheres have reduced them to a smaller size than found on the surface. The largest of the members is a close tie with the peaceful Farcu-
A highly adaptable predator, Rarpiru are a danger now spread across the galaxy due to Covenant expansion.
Arpho and the more fearsome Rarpiru-Emte-Dannree, more commonly just called the Rarpiru. The Farcu-Arpho, at 19 metres and weighing in at 9.3 tonnes on average, is the heaviest animal of the seas. Resembling a whale but with a distinct neck and a scaled appearance, they reside in the largest river systems on the Kimplooc continent, they primarily on fallen trees and plant material. In places where storms are hard to reach or form, they switch over to schools of fish for primary nutrition. Rarpiru, on the other hand, is far more dangerous and ancient. A fish-like creature but with a large jaw, fins and legs, it was originally thought to evolve to hunt on Farcu-Arpho until fossils of it were excavated, proving its ancient design. As a bottom-feeder, it will eat anything it finds, ripping apart hard shells and messily digging up large areas of dirt to find their prey. They have been found closer to the surface, even apparently walking onto land to lunge at larger prey. What's worse, however, is not their abilities, but their eggs. The eggs have extremely tough casing and can survive extended periods in a vacuum, but are small enough to be carried without the host being aware. As a result of this, the Rarpiru have become extremely common on worlds with any large bodies of water - after Sigma Octanus IV was invaded by the Covenant, it became one of the many worlds to suffer a Rarpiru outbreak.
However, the most interesting of all the native wildlife are a rare example of what's believed to be a sentient life form in evolution: the semi-sentient Groath. The Groath are composed of three known subspecies, with two occupying a large region near and throughout the Yatro'Chrat-Zimitor ranges, containing the larger of Palamok's mountains. They are surprisingly different to each other, and their striking resemblance to the Yanme'e might mean that they are a diverged ancestor. Little is known about them, other than their behaviour and place of residence. The first-known subspecies, called the Lesser Groath, is a social group who lead a tribal-based society in the forests of the range's base. Though each visited tribe has a unique language and structure, they are not friendly and are obsessed of proving their dominance to their neighbours, often using guerrilla tactics to defeat slightly more established groups. However, there are reports that tribes operate a primitive trading network with each other, paying each other to prevent attacks on each other. The second species, the Grey-Spotted Groath remains in the extremely cold temperatures in the peaks, perhaps for protection against alien forces or invaders. Indeed, the highest group, living at a height of 2300 metres, occupy what appears to be a primitive castle or fortress formed out of a natural crater. Finally, the largest of them, the Greater Groath, is locked away underground in the Anquator'eme cavern. The apex predator of their group, they are the only ones which are omnivorous, capable of eating whatever they find down there. Their tolerance of other individuals is minimal, with only partner pairs mating for life being the largest groups. It is not known why the Greater Groath is so far away in such a different environment, though the leading theory suggests the species was geographically divided at some point when the forests parted, maybe even due to an earthquake which uplifted the mountains. Such a feat on Palamok, due to its stability, is not only rare but unusual in that location as well. Regardless, the Groath are becoming increasingly rare, between territorial disputes with themselves and the Grangore clans, environmental changes and, in the case of the Greater Groath, persecution to ensure security in the many mining sites which operate in the area.
A underside view of the Qui, a staple livestock for the Yanme'e.
Yet despite the wild nature of the majority of animals on Palamok, there are a handful that have been tamed and taken off-world for agricultural purposes - the Secra, Curo and Qui. The Secra and Qui, both which are closely related, are large herbivorous arachnids which have large bodies and comparatively small legs. Because the Yanme'e are carnivores, they are reliant on methods to breed these animals in large numbers for consumption. Unfortunately for them, Secra and Qui were wary of other species and required large expanses of forests in order to breed in sustainable numbers, something which was mimicked through varying types of drugs for different purposes. The drugs were never perfect, however, and are rarely used due to the meat suffering weird side-effects, from things as simple as lower meat quality to more serious concerns such as bio-magnification of toxins and reduced sterilisation. The Curo was a amphibian which considered a delicacy among the queens thanks to its moisturised body. Eaten whole, only the youngsters are collected, with the adults either being turned in to the Sports industry or killed off because of their uncontrollable desire to kill.
There is a wide range of Flora found across Palamok, but only a handful is actively catalogued or even named for that matter. So much that during the forty-day survey during Operation: NEW HORIZONS more plants have been named than in the entire Yanme'e history of their habitation. As will all ecosystems, the flora forms the very foundation and continues to influence how animals evolve. Thanks to the relative stability of their environment (with the exception of short ice ages every million years or so), many of the dominant species have retained that position for millions of years. Unlike the animal life, the flora is fairly normal in most instances.
In a majority of the forests across the planet, a small number of tree species have exceeded the growth maximum that plagued most other rivals, becoming widely spread in the process. However, most, such as the razor-leafed Birch Tree are known to have extremely-long period of time before becoming an adult, an evolutionary trait in which the sapling establishes the root foundation to support its massive size. While they can take hundreds of years to grow to their full size, they are capable of enormous sizes that are only short of the giants of Doisac. Unlike the Jiralhanae homeworld, poor nutrients and intense rivalry means that while widespread, only a few members are found within each square kilometre. Herbivores with strong 'seedbreaker' mandibles to pressure-crack the shell often feed upon most of those which aren't eaten from inside-out by bacteria. On the other side, low-growing grasses and vines dominated the floor, strangling seeds of sunlight and giving places for animals to hide. Many of those species were increasingly invasive when introduced into new environments; this was how the Vat'quiuan Slow Creeper grew to become one of the more common plants in environments, destroying ecosystems it entered after it was unwittingly spread by the Yanme'e.
If one was to walk in the forests when all the animals are asleep, one of the things they'll immediately notice is the lack of flowers or flowering plants. And those that do have flowers are larger than what is necessary. The answer for those critical differences are simple: there are very few pollinators to assist in plant reproduction, so either they must offer larger buds with greater rewards to attract other animals to act in their place, or rely on the strong winds to carry the pollen and seeds. Because of that, the male/female parts are often very different, with the male being long and soft to increase the pollen thrown off when even a gentle breeze comes along. The female part is extremely variable, depending on the means of spreading those seeds; harder 'protoseeds' with a tough outer shell and a light weight to carry it further in the wind, while others offer fruit for animals to consume and deposit the seeds elsewhere.
Bordering the rainforests and occupying low-land floodplains and valleys are where the planet's swamps are located. Here, nutrients are washed away as quickly as they are deposited, with only places where it's impossible for cyclonic winds to pull the soil out which have reliable nutrient levels. As a result, in these environments there are a few carnivorous or at least those which aggressively defend themselves. The King Clouder is one of the latter, where it emits a foul-smelling aroma which is supposed to deter animals away from it. However, some of those predators attempt to consume the fruits which grow in bulbs along the vines, which are actually hardening seeds. To defend those, the Clouder earns its name by flooding the surrounding air with a paralysis-inducing toxic powder which is breathed in by all animals within a radius of ten metres and, in high-turbulence areas, even greater. They are triggered when the hairy strands on the bulbs and vines are disturbed in any way, so at times they do react in times where there is no immediate danger.