Riesel (RAI-z'l, raɪzəl), also called The Old Aristocrat and originally known as Riesel's Refuge, is a dingy and crime-heavy ecumenopolis located in the Prakuul system in the Outer Core region of the galaxy. A pitiful shadow of its former self, the planet's former affluence fell into decay due to political instability and an influx of organized crime, and has been ruled by kleptocratic de facto governments for over five centuries — the current one being the mafia syndicate known as the Bright Ebony Organization.
Semi-populated and decaying city-continents float above the endless urban sprawl amongst the polluted atmosphere, bearing a sobering testament to the planet's affluent past. The population is roughly twelve trillion, a far cry from its past population of over sixty trillion.
The planet is home to the Bright Ebony Organization (often shortened to BrEbOr, or Brebor), and hosts many other mafia organizations. It also serves as a major hideout for countless criminals, making it both a very dangerous place and a treasure trove of bounty-hunting opportunity.
It has two moons, Markieyl and Jhena. Markieyl (MAHR-kyle or mahr-KALE) is heavily industrialized, being completely covered in artificial structures, mostly factories. There are also numerous residential towers and refueling stations. Conversely, Jhena (JEE-nuh) is mostly barren, too small for much use aside from communication arrays and other stations.
Riesel is a planet located in the Outer Core of the galaxy, near a variety of notable planets including Lakyne, Kray Kenavace, Anuanum, and Strinnethal. Although far from being the only crestfallen crime pit in the galaxy, it is one of the most notable, playing host to infamous mafias such as the formidable Bright Ebony Organization and the paltry Zaxadin Cartel.
Seen from orbit, Riesel is a mishmash of glittering, ashen cityscape and vast swaths of ruddy, dim, and even completely dark urbanization consisting of the more dilapidated areas of the planet.
Geologically, Riesel has a typical molten core with a silicate crust. Most volcanoes were capped off long ago with colossal material collection facilities, constantly being drained of any new magma which is then shipped off-world. However, a few active volcanoes can be seen spouting ash and lava in the abandoned districts, resulting in the occasional collapse of a flaming tower. Historically, all geological hotspots and faults were constantly monitored, and buildings built upon such regions were typically shorter and featured dynamic shock-absorbing systems in their bases. As time passed and decay pervaded, these buildings fell into disrepair before literally falling during major seismic events.
Riesel was once covered with seas and lakes, with a few mountain ranges interspersed — the former were drained and the latter demolished or built over. Most of the native life was relocated to natural reserve worlds, though some of it remained, now residing in the sunless and polluted lowest levels.
The entire surface of the planet, including the frigid polar regions, is covered in undulating urban sprawl that stretches anywhere from one to ten miles above the surface, though five miles is the average. A few structures peak above that, with the tallest towers being dozens of miles tall. The lowest 100 stories are mostly abandoned due to the inconvenience of traveling so far down, and the final 40 stories are so badly decayed that only support beams and shafts remain. In the presence of any appreciable light, a person standing on the ground would think they were gazing upon an endless forest of giant metal pylons and hills of trash and soot, with the occasional river of murky water in between...and probably a mutant beast waiting to devour them.
Floating above the cityscape are gigantic metal mountain ranges consisting of even more towers, situated in the tropopause or lower stratosphere. These artificial continents are merely massive platforms upon which great stalagmites and stalactites of towers were constructed during Riesel's more prosperous days that saw a population topping sixty trillion. Now they are semi-populated, rusting hulks that take up space and create eerie shadows on the urban ocean below.
To feed so many people, immense cargo freighters — often miles in length — periodically visit the planet to deliver food, water, and other supplies. Riesel once possessed gigantic food production facilities that greatly eased the burden of so many people, but these were abandoned in favor of a contract made by some corrupt politicians with outside sources. The contract continued to be upheld by the Bright Ebony Organization and previous ruling mafias, profiting off of sales to local distributors.
Riesel is divided into hundreds of regions and hundreds of thousands of districts, both on the surface and the flying citymasses. There are over a thousand Show Districts, with the notable 18th Show District being on the Hascu Village aerial continent.
The overall quality of life for the average person varies per region, but usually ranges from moderately comfortable to dirt poor. Even with a good stock of jucals, one's health still comes into concern due to the quality of the air and other environmental factors.
Unlike a typical ecumenopolis, Riesel does not have interstellar phone service companies. Denizens must either purchase their own subspace relays (which are not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive, either) or use the ones that come standard with spacefaring vessels. Many people on Riesel do not possess such vessels, and everyday non-space towncars do not usually possess such equipment.
The air is filled with industrial pollutants to the point of affecting one's taste over time. Most of Riesel's denizens stay indoors or otherwise enclosed whenever possible. Any social areas that would otherwise appear to be open-air are typically protected by atmospheric retention energy shielding or clear domes.
Besides two natural satellites, Riesel is orbited by hundreds of stations, including the popular club Night Life over Riesel.
Waste is either taken by offworld recycling companies or shot into the sun. Power is typically provided by exotic matter reactors.
Riesel was first discovered on June 30, 2901 by Human explorer Jayscen Loderick Riesel and was named Riesel's Refuge. The two moons were named after his two children, son Markieyl and daughter Jhena. The system itself was called Riesel's Orrery.
The planet was very lush and featured numerous large seas. It also had many valuable ore deposits that were promptly bought and mined by mining companies. The first colonial cities were notably beautiful, taking inspiration from English Edwardian architecture and smoother designs from 16th century Minsaz, a former nation on the Bicseyr'n homeworld of Calooceron.
The Riesel family ruled the planet as a monarchy, with primogeniture determining the succeeding ruler and his or her siblings and trusted associates forming the advisory council. The king's power was not absolute and could be overridden by a 4/5 vote in the council.
In 2973, Jayscen's grandson, King Loderick Riesel, renamed the planet and system as simply Riesel.
The sheer extent of the planet's resources led to a major economic boom that saw the construction of many cities in a very short amount of time. By the year 3000, Riesel had over a billion inhabitants and more than 200 major cities. Dozens of galactic companies established their headquarters on the world, and vast swaths of land were devoted to nothing but factories and related facilities. In the process, the native fauna and flora that happened to be in the way of development were relocated to nearby biological sanctuary planets where urbanization was heavily restricted.
In 3155, the Riesel monarchy was replaced with a democratic system, beginning with President Karles Park.
As of 3200, Riesel was officially designated as a significant galactic commercial hub. Individuals from all over the galaxy came to call the planet home, as did many commercial groups...but also shadier groups as well. Indeed, Riesel's underworld grew exponentially.
By the year 4000, the planet's entire surface had become covered with urban sprawl, though sunlight continued to hit the ground for another 500 years.
In 4170, the last democratic administration was bought out by the retail titan Zinepaddi Corp due to a particularly bad business deal. The new corporatocratic administration lasted over a century before it was subsidized by another company.
When the Prakuul Corporation took governmental power in 4742, they renamed the system to Prakuul. They remained in power until they were bought out by Teske Products Limited in 4826.
By the year 5000, the planet's population hit forty trillion.
Democracy was once again established in 5334, and continued for several centuries. However, corruption began to noticeably flourish by 5500, and by 5540, had become a full-blown kleptocracy. Economic firestorms and brutal political battles created sharp divisions and led to a large number of districts declaring independence. This, in turn, led to the Riesel Civil War of 5611. It lasted for three years until the corrupt rulers were ousted.
Just before the war, the population had peaked at sixty trillion.
The planet never fully recovered from the bloodshed, and the cycle of peace-corruption-war continued for centuries.
Dissolution of government
In 7363, shortly after Riesel's 15th Civil War, a mafia known as the Ban'podac Syndicate exploited the government's military exhaustion and stormed the capitol building, instigating a massacre. Boss Ebartres, a Tweqo, declared himself the leader of Riesel and assigned his underbosses to oversee law enforcement (which doubled as the military), economics, commerce, media, and other regulatory functions.
Mafias continued to rise and fall as time passed, frequently replacing their predecessors through bloody slaughters, and the upkeep of all but the most affluent of Riesel's districts degraded, as did the civility factor.
Rise of Bright Ebony
During the reign of the Kisyost mafia in 8189, a Rhado'Kawaxan named Gibbwa Zetue prepared the young but well-armed Bright Ebony Organization for a coup against the faction. Kisyost was weak and crumbling under corruption — ripe for conquest. Zetue went on a major recruitment campaign on Moristoy, the homeworld of his species, targeting the planet's underworld and shadow societies. He managed to amass a rather small army of over 16,000 and subjected them to a rigorous training regimen, molding them into combatants with skills needed to compensate for their lack of numbers.
On September 10, 8189, he sent his best militants to infiltrate and sabotage various components of the Kisyost network, throwing it into an uncontrolled spiral. The mafia fell two days later.
Zetue ruled as Boss until August 22, 8197, when he was incapacitated by poison and succeeded by his top underboss, another Rhado'Kawaxan, named Dschudda Dinnine. Zetue was taken to a medical ward and was never heard from again.
Dinnine rules with a facade of benevolence, but is indeed quite iron-fisted. Riesel has become more organized under his leadership but continues to suffer the curse of corruption and neglect.
Due to Brebor's extensive business diversity, they receive an impressive income and used such funds to rapidly build shipyards and, in turn, a powerful defense fleet.
Riesel is inhabited by twelve trillion people (unofficial census; the true number may be more or less by trillions), consisting of over a hundred thousand different sentient species. Of these, the top 3% consists of Ahjrics (Sirukti, Lonkapi and Gaili), Atrasesti (Tweqos and Bysogas), Humans, and Gatheephs, and the other 97% consists of the remaining 99,993 (-ish) species.
Customs and holidays
Despite the diversity inherent to a planet with so many different species and nationalities, a few customs are shared. These include:
- Not going “pit plunging,” i.e. venturing into the dark depths of Riesel's lowest levels. It's just dumb.
- Going “pit plunging,” but only with sufficient protection and weaponry. A common dare by inebriated or otherwise stupid teenagers, or mafiosos who wish to test a recruit's courage (or get rid of them).
- Having a stash of throwaway money to appease mafia extortionists. Or a gun to kill them.
- Owning a gun, preferably many powerful ones.
- Keeping one's most valuable possessions hidden, but very portable.
- Owning and carrying a stash of antidotes, ESPECIALLY when bar-hopping. A few Riesellan patrons are malevolent enough to drug or poison a barmate's drink. A few bartenders get in on the action as well if the target happens to be particularly disliked...or attractive.
- Visiting designated grocery chains, because local markets can be rather shady and bad for one's health.
- Owning a gun, preferably many powerful ones.
- Wearing dull clothing. Crisp or otherwise flashy clothing will attract thieves.
- Keeping a personal shield handy. Shootouts and robberies are common.
- Staying indoors, and using a breathmask when venturing outdoors — at least in areas with above-average pollution. While the air won't cause instant respiratory damage (usually), prolonged and repeated exposure can cause problems later in life.
- Knowing combat tactics. Because Riesel.
Oddly enough, Riesel does have holidays. Included are:
- Colonist Day – Celebrating the founding of Riesel. June 30.
- Brebor Day – Celebrating Bright Ebony's takeover of Riesel. September 12.
- Gun Day – The first Saturday of every month. Stores commonly offer discounts and gun-shaped candies and pastries.
Government and politics
Bright Ebony is a world-spanning mafia dictatorship, though it's surprisingly absent from the daily lives of civilians — save for advertising and a few state-sponsored shopping centers. There are also countless self-proclaimed autonomous regions, though Brebor does not recognize them and exerts its authority over them regardless.
Brebor does not tax the citizens of Riesel because it is effectively its own business. Its annual income is more than enough to fund its projects.
Law enforcement and public safety
What law enforcement and public safety? Just about everything on Riesel is DIY, especially self-defense. Brebor may go on patrols with fightercraft here and there, but only for the intimidation factor against any other mafias or would-be revolutionaries.
Historically, the government used tens of billions of intelligent enforcer androids alongside local precincts to act as the police. Most of these fell into disrepair over time, long before Brebor's arrival.
Entertainment and sports
What does one do for entertainment on a planet of lawlessness and uninhibited self-indulgence? Visit a club or a bar. Many such establishments also feature adult entertainment. Failing the carnal urges, one could buy some tickets and go see a bunch of racing ships compete at breakneck speeds. Ship racing is by far the most popular sport on Riesel, and a number of abandoned areas have been converted to host racing events. Ship sizes range from dartbikes (essentially flying motorcycles) to heavy fighters. Using large winged creatures isn't unheard of, either.
Other popular sports include those that involve physical contact between the players, including bloodsports such as brutal gladiator arenas.
Of the many districts that exist, the Show Districts are by far the most popular. There are many hundreds, each ranging in size from a few buildings to spanning dozens of miles. The 18th Show District, located on the aerial continent Hascu Village, takes up a significant portion of the structure.
Various past mafias and aristocrats possessed palaces, usually in the form of ornate towers and free-floating structures, and a few can still be seen in good condition today. Brebor resides in the original government building, a five-mile-wide behemoth of a tower that rises twenty-two miles into the sky. It is arguably the most well-kept structure on the entire planet, being funded generously by the Organization's income from various projects — legitimate and illicit.
As the planet itself is the underworld, there isn't really anything beneath that.
Brebor keeps Riesel (and the Prakuul system in general) well-defended, having established many surface, orbital, and interplanetary defense posts. Its capital ships have enough firepower to devastate a planet's surface from orbit.