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Carlea is the fourth planet around the star Maea in the Cnara System. It is a cool, temperate planet with life filling its vast oceans and small continents. It is the homeworld of the Carlean species, the second most populous planet of the United Nations of the Flower Galaxy, and one of the two capitals of the Cnara-Frealee Federation.

Overview

Carlea was named by the native Carleans in prehistory, after one of their gods. It is a planet filled with life, tens of millions of lifeforms of all sorts. One of those lifeforms that lived here was the Carlean species, an intelligent species that would later rise to conquer a good portion of the galaxy and create the Cnara-Frealee Federation.

Carlea is one of the most important worlds in the Flower Galaxy, as it is the capital world of the Carleans, the intelligent species it gave birth to, and the Cnara-Frealee Federation, the most powerful nation in the Flower Galaxy. The Carleans, being a naturally quite peaceful species, would forge multiple peace treaties among the warring factions of the Flower Galaxy, including the First Treaty of Providence, the Fifteenth Treaty of Providence, the Five Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Third Treaty of Providence, and so many other Treaty of Providences. Essentially, the Carleans would bring lasting peace to the galaxy.

Astrography

Carlea is located near the center of the Cnara Cluster, a region of the Flower Core comprising a few hundred star systems in a dense cluster, and the first systems to be colonized by the Carleans, and one of the most populous regions of the Cnara-Frealee Federation.

Interestingly, this area of space is filled with inhabited worlds with around 30 % of its star systems having at least one planet or moon with some form of life. Studies have not revealed any particular reason as to why this region is so life-filled.

Moon System

Carlea, orbiting so close to Maea, has no natural moons. However, occationally a quasi-satellite gets temporarily captured. The lack of major moons makes vast orbital infrastructure very easy to set up.

Space infrastructure

The space within Carlea's sphere of influence is positively stuffed with various rotating habitats, space stations, transport spacecraft, space farms, and solar collectors. This often makes it very tricky to find where one actually wants to go without navigation. Luckily, among the things floating around Carlea is a portion of the Galactic Positioning System, a project funded by the United Nations of the Flower Galaxy as a whole to help citizens navigate easily. Carlea was one of the first planets for it to go up around due to its importance.

There are also many rotating habitats around Carlea. There are in fact so many that over half of Carlea's population isn't actually on the planet. These rotating habitats are mainly fed by low gravity space farms, carefully designed to be as efficient as possible.

Geography

Carlea has a static-lid crust, leading to a relatively flat seafloor, with no trenches or anything. This means that the continents don't move around the crust, unlike tectonically active planets. However, large portions of crust have been shoved upward creating two large contients, Reana and Porania. Each of these continents contains massive populations, filled with trillions of Carleans and other species, living in tall arcologies.

These two continents are divided by a vast ocean with no real way to split it up into multiple oceans, so it's just called "Carlea's Ocean". This ocean is filled with hundreds of islands of varying sizes, from tiny spits of sand barely poking above the water to vast islands almost continents in their own right.

A map of Carlea.

Interestingly, most of the planet is covered in forests, and the deserts are being artificially cooled down and terraformed. Along with the endless forests, Carlea is covered with taigas, large snow-capped mountain ranges, frozen wastelands (not much of them anymore though), small deserts, a few regions of arid badlands, and a few swamps near the coasts.

Continents: Reana

The continent of Reana, from a spacecraft in high orbit.

Reana is the equatorial continent of Carlea, containing many species of life and is mostly covered in tropical rainforest. The continent is partially submerged, with only ~fifty percent of its land area protruding above water. Reana is home to many coral reefs, and is thus the most biodiverse continent on Carlea.

Larenna City

Reana is home to the city of Larenna, the most populous city of the planet. Larenna is a floating city hovering over the rainforests of the continent, to avoid disturbing the fragile ecosystem there.

Targa Archipelago

The Targa Archipelago is an archipelago filled with many islands, which are set aside as a nature preserve. It has many species of animals and plants found nowhere else on the planet, including the Pyre Frogtrap, a carnivorous plant that looks like an alarmingly large jaw, capable of eating animals as large as frogs. The carnivorous plants here evolved because of the low soil quality (it's actually sand), which required extra nutrition to allow the plants to grow and reproduce.

Aalles Rainforest

The Aalles Rainforest spans the eastern above-water portion of the continent, and has many many types of plants, some of which remain uncatalogued to this day. It contains both the rainiest place on Carlea and the place where lightning strikes most often, Lake Marelaka. Some Carleans have chosen to live in this rainforest in small huts suspended from the vast trees.

The Rainforest contains massive trees in excess of 400 meters tall, and a small portion of the rainforest has a massive collection of buildings suspended from the massive branches. This city is relatively primitive, as it has to make sure not to damage the trees upon which it is built.

Zelles Rainforest

The Zelles Rainforest is a rainforest on the western above-water portion of the continent, and it is relatively similar to the Aales Rainforest. It has many unique species and is the most biodiverse region of the planet. On the eastern shore of the rainforest, there is a space elevator port, which was placed twelve kilometers offshore.

Alatara Desert

The Alatara Desert is the driest portion of the planet, on the southwestern shore of the northern above-water portion of the continent of Reana. It is caused by a rain-shadow effect caused by the Pellot Mountains, which block water vapor carried on the wind from reaching the location of the desert. There are some places in the desert which haven't seen rain in all of recorded history.

The extreme conditions of the desert necessitate similarly extreme species there. One species lives in the relatively wetter regions of the desert and can live for over eleven years without a single drop of water. Another lives on the shoreline and digs trenches to guide water into a drinking trough. However, there aren't very many species that live here.

Pellot Mountains

The Pellot Mountains are extinct volcanoes caused by a roving hotspot breaking through the crust. They are the highest mountains on Carlea, and are the anchor of another space elevator. They aren't very biologically diverse, but a few species have managed to gain footholds there.

Continents: Porania

The continent of Porania, from a spacecraft in high orbit.

Porania is the southern and least populated continent of Carlea, and is mainly covered in dry forest and savannah. Porania only has one major city, Arkos, off the northern coast of the continent.

Salapar Forests

The Salapar Forests are the most ecologically diverse area of Porania, filled with various sorts of birds and other plant and animal life. The forests are home to one or two uncontacted Carlean tribes, meaning that travel is restricted due to the possibility of disease spreading. Uniquely for such a populated planet, most of these forests are not well-explored.

Anacreon Savannah

The Anacreon Savannah is a hot, dry, but still quite biodiverse region of Carlea, with many species of large animals populating the endless grasses. It is quite dry, but there are many rivers, lakes, and seasonal waterholes here, which allow animals, and even lonely Carleans, to survive and even thrive here. The trees are relatively sparse and widely spaced, and are often quite tall to avoid their leaves being eaten by foraging animals.

Letza Ice Cap

The Letza Ice Cap is the coldest portion of Carlea, covered in kilometers of ice. Almost nothing lives here due to its extreme lack of precipitation. The Letza Ice Cap is home to the Great Dry Valleys, a series of snowless valleys deep in the center of the ice cap that have not seen a single drop of rain for millions of years.

However, many lakes lie hidden deep beneath the ice, with very interesting fauna adapted to the complete and utter blackness beneath kilometers of ice.

Islands

Alerus Island

Alerus Island is a medium-sized island in the middle of the ocean. It is mostly covered in a small forest, surrounded by beaches. Because of the island's remoteness to landmasses, the island has many unique species from millions of years apart from the rest of the world, and has a population of only a dozen Carleans studying the unique native fauna.

Lakes

Lake Paracraibis

Lake Paracraibis from low orbit, barely visible through the clouds.

Lake Paracraibis is a freshwater lake very close to the shore of the continent of Reana. the lake is located very close to the equator, and is hit by rain and lightning storms almost daily.

The lake also has eleven mysterious thin obsidian spires almost three kilometers in height spiking out of the center of the lake, which are unexplained to this day. Because of the spires' height, many plants have found a way to grow up the spires to collect large amounts of light from above the everpresent cloud cover.

Climate

Carlea has a rather varied climate, with each portion of the planet having its own unique climate. Like most temperate worlds, its climate is mainly varied depending on latitude with some areas creating hot deserts and others creating patches of frozen wasteland.

Most of the landmasses are covered in temperate forests filled with endless types of flora and fauna, not all of which are even documented yet. However, the north and south poles are covered with large ice caps where only the hardiest life-forms of Carlea can survive.

The atmosphere on Carlea has a composition of 69.8% Molecular Nitrogen, 25.1% Molecular Oxygen, 1.2% Argon, and trace amounts of other elements, including carbon dioxide, ozone, and an abnormally large amount of noble gases than was expected from it's location in the system. It's biosphere has altered the atmospheric composition in several ways: Firstly, 1.4 Billion years ago, Photosynthesis was developed, releasing an insane amount of oxygen into the air, rendering most ancient anaerobic species extinct, and over millions of years after that, indirectly creating an ozone layer that protects life on land by deflecting or absorbing lethal ultraviolet radiation, which is admittedly pretty rare in the Cnara System anyway. Aside from this, the thickness of the atmosphere protects surface life from most asteroids, that could otherwise destroy large areas of land.

Flora and Fauna: Overview

The iron core of Carlea is less active, producing a magnetic field, albeit somewhat weak. The lower flow also means there is no plate tectonic activity. Earlier in its history, there was far greater activity, bringing heavy metals to the surface. Since the crust froze, the nutrients and materials have remained stable.

Life evolved almost immediately in the oxygen depleted, storm ridden salted oceans, lightning initiating the reactions creating amino acids and other simple biologic monomers. Chemosynthesis consumed poisons in the atmosphere, followed by photosynthesis which filled the skies with oxygen. After the heavy rains created by comets, and the heavy bombardment of failed planetoids, life flourished in the shallow seas that covered the planet.

Bacteria-like life was followed by eukaryotic-like life, both encased by cell walls that acted as shields against the somewhat more intense radiation that penetrates the weaker magnetic field. One driver of evolution was the widespread use of plasmids, loops of DNA that rapidly transfer between individuals. Whereas eukaryotes as we know it do not use this mechanism, the more advanced cells of Carlea evolved to continue utilizing these, enabling the widespread sharing of genetic material between species.

This was to guide the remainder of evolution for the planet, since species as a whole were not to be in direct competition with one another. One species would benefit from its neighbor, leading to multiple species occupying the same niche. Asexual and then sexual reproduction for all species are controlled by ‘braking’ proteins that limit offspring by available resources, which prevents population collapses as seen on most other planets.

Plants rapidly diversified, from algae to simple floating plants that sail the high seas. The shallow oceans receive light on the bottom, where even the dim rays toward the red end of the visible light spectrum allow the growth of broad-leafed plants that are grey in color, and cover the ocean bottom. Scant light power has led to great biodiversity across the ocean floors, as the plants have evolved creative ways to overcome these limitations, with leaves growing to several meters in size across, catching not only light, but the rain of dead material from above, and eating them like animals.

Coral reefs are everywhere, and each riot of coral is capable of photosynthesis and consumption of plant and animal material. This resulted from the widespread sharing of plasmids, even among advanced individuals.

On land, there are swamps, deserts, and rainforests, all stricken by low soil quality and intense radiation from above. Plants and animals alike have cellular structures carrying cell walls forming incomplete shields that still allow flexibility and movement.

Rainforests hold colossal trees over 400 meters tall. Their height does not compare to their depth, boasting roots that penetrate a kilometer into the crust, the roots capable of surviving a dense and hot crust interior. These anchors serve primarily as miners, transporting heavy metals and minerals from the crust to the surface. This bonanza of nutrients has led to impossibly dense forests. Smaller plants have used the same plasmids that code for the roots of the trees, with some grasses and squat shrubs also having kilometer long root systems that grow slowly but steadily, inexorably exploring the interior for every possible nutrient.

Over time, the trees have exhausted their attempts to spread to new biomes, and finally settled on expending excess energy creating ultralight spores that are shot into space in bubbles of hydrogen and helium. These are capable of surviving a vacuum near zero Kelvin.

Animal life is similarly diverse, with sea life of squid and fish that form the bulk of the complex food web. Most animals are slow growing and developing. The infrequent development of a species that is more aggressive and competitive has invariably been ‘infected’ by plasmids that brake growth and development, and any evolutionary arms race returns to the status quo.

History

Carlea first formed roughly 3.1 billion years ago, around 100 million years after the formation of Raea and Maea. It evolved life around 300 million years after that, after several impacts from large protoplanets. Roughly 400 million years before the present day, an explosion of diversity happened, in which thousands of multicellular species burst onto the scene. After a lot of evolution, one particular species, which would come to be known as the Carleans, would rise to intelligence, and invent space technology in the 43,000s CE.

After this breakthrough, they colonized their home system, and then expanded outwards to colonize the whole of the Cnara Cluster. Many of the planets they encountered had developing life, ranging from pond scum to large animals. However, the first planet they encountered with properly intelligent life was Darvikus, which was four hundred light-years away and outside of the cluster. Small sects among them wanted to simply conquer them, but the overriding opinion was that they should make contact, and this proved to be the right decision as the two intelligent species had different sorts of technology, which allowed them to combine their research and grow much more powerful than they would have been able to otherwise, forming the most powerful nation in the galaxy, the Cnara-Frealee Federation.

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