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Harakoans are the indigenous peoples of New Tython, or as they refer to it, Harakoa. They are largely a tribal people, and live nomadic lifestyles in accordance with the ways of their native tribes. Heavily affected by outsiders to their planet, from colonists and Jedi to the Dark Brotherhood and Cy Thuron, they must now reconcile generations of tradition with rapid changes brought on by galactic war.
Biology and Appearance
The most distinctive feature of Harakoans is their tall cranial crest, which can extend up to 40 cm (16 inches) above their brow. This crest is an extension of the skull bone, and inside it is a complex arrangement of hollow chambers which connect to the nostrils. These amplifying chambers allow the Harakoans to produce very loud calls from their nose, which sound like wind or brass musical instruments. The timbre of these calls differs between the ethnic groups of New Tython; the call of equatorial Harakoans typically sounds like a crumhorn, while that of boreal Harakoans sounds more like a bassoon. The shape of the crest also varies. Desert-dwelling Harakoans have broad, densely vascularized crests, which aid them in the dispersal of body heat; boreal tribes have taller, more robust crests which they sometimes use in fights; jungle tribes have shorter rounded crests which allow them to travel through the dense vegetation unhindered.
Most Harakoans have an omnivorous diet, although some jungle tribes are known to be completely carnivorous. In 4 ABY, the average Harakoan life span was around 60 standard years, although it is known to have increased since then. The average adult height is quite a bit below that of Humans, although it varies greatly across the planet. Jungle and mountain Harakoans are the shortest (1.2 m, 3.9 feet average), desert Harakoans are slightly taller, steppe Harakoans almost reach average Human height, and boreal Harakoans are often taller than Humans (1.9 m, 6.2 feet average).
The official and most widely spoken language on Harakoa is Galactic Basic, although each tribe also has its own very distinct language. Basic was introduced by the Jedi in 3 ABY, and its use was propagated to foster relationships between tribes and colonies. At present, most Harakoan tribespeople speak a passable Basic, and even some of the isolated jungle tribes have a Basic-speaking representative.
As for the native tongues, the Harakoans have two methods of speech: through the mouth (also known as buccal language), like most other humanoids, or through the hollow chambers of their cranial crest and out of the nose (also called crest vocalization or nasal language). Most tribes keep their buccal and nasal languages separate, because of their distinct phonetic differences: while the buccal language is like that of many other humanoids, the nasal language has very few consonants and includes changes in pitch and tone as a core part of its syntax. Despite this, there are some tribes which integrate nasal sounds in their buccal language.
The similarity of languages between the Harakoan tribes ends at the buccal-nasal duality. There are as many discrete languages on Harakoa as there are tribes. Historical linguists struggle to find a common origin to more than two current tribal languages, suggesting that each tribe developed its own language since the first spoken words, with little influence from neighboring tribes.
Sonance is the ability of a Force-sensitive Harakoan to control an animal using a combination of crest vocalizations and the Force (in some ways similar to Beast Control). The word "Sonance" is Basic in origin, but each Harakoan language has its own word for it. Every Sonant (person who practices Sonance) is a Force-sensitive, but not every Harakoan Force-sensitive is fully able to sonate (verb of sonance). Every Harakoan infant undergoes a test to determine if they can become Sonants (effectively a Force-sensitivity test), and those that result positive begin training at a very early age in most tribes. The percentage of Sonants in a single tribal population is constant at around 15% throughout Harakoa. There are no known living Force-sensitive Harakoans who possess Force powers other than Sonance. It is not known if this is because they are conditioned into Sonance at such a young age, or if they are physically unable to interact with the Force through anything but Sonance.
Sonance is performed by combining Force use to crest vocalizations. When a Sonant focuses on the target animal (or group of animals) and vocalizes through his or her cranial crest, they unconsciously accompany the sound with a Force impulse, which the Sonant shapes according to their crest call in order to achieve the desired effect on the target animal. Some Sonants memorize set sequences of crest calls, which they associate with specific effects on the target animal, while others "go by instinct" and improvise their crest calls. Some tribes place great importance on the musical side of the crest call, in addition to its effect on the target animal.
The effect on the animal can vary from a change in behavior to direct control of the skeletal muscles (since cardiac and smooth muscles are much more difficult to control). Experienced Sonants can also transfer their awareness into the animal's body, so that they can make use of the animal's senses. This allows the Sonant to control the animal even when they are out of their sight. Another advanced technique consists of placing controls on the animal which will be triggered by a certain event, or which will continue controlling the animal in a set way even after the Sonant ceases to sonate.
The degree of control that Sonants can exert on an animal varies according to their training. Some are able to control large herds of animals, although their control over a single individual will be limited. Some specialize in particular species of animals, so that they can control small groups or single individuals of those species to a greater extent, although they will find it difficult to control animals of other species. Some Sonants "bond" to a single animal individual since an early age, granting them the greatest possible control over that animal, but often leaving them unable to control any other animal.
Sonance has many applications in the Harakoan tribes. The most common is the control of war beasts. Sonant warriors either control large packs of fierce beasts to overpower the enemy, or concentrate on a small group or a single beast for greater control. Experienced Sonants can transfer their awareness into an animal to use them as scouts or for hunting. Fast animals are often used as messengers by sonating a set route which they will follow. Less glamorous but equally important applications of Sonance are the control of livestock, mounts and pack animals, all vital in pastoralist nomad tribes.
Revocance is the ability of a Harakoan to perfectly repeat from memory a complex sequence of crest vocalizations. It bears resemblance to eidetic memory. It is not connected in any way to the Force, and it is instead thought to be hereditary. It can be classified as a syndrome, since Revocance is always accompanied by late-onset dementia and progressive muscle weakness. Around 10% of the population of each Harakoan tribe is born Revocant, although this varies greatly from tribe to tribe. It is thought to be caused by an autosomal recessive mutant allele.
As mentioned before, Revocance is associated with several neuromuscular disorders. The cause is thought to be an autoimmune response to certain enzymes involved in the release of neurotransmitters across the synaptic cleft. Basically, the Revocant's own antibodies destroy the chemicals needed to transmit a nerve impulse. This targets certain parts of the brain and of the somatic (motor) nervous system. Apart from Revocance itself, the effects are a loss of cognitive ability and muscle weakness in the arms and legs. It is not known why only these parts are affected. While the ability to revocate is present at a young age, the other symptoms only surface at around 25 to 35 years of age. They will start with infrequent spells of confusion and slight muscle weakness, and they will progress to full loss of most mental capabilities, and paralysis of the arms and legs by the age of fifty. The disease is rarely directly fatal, if the Revocant is properly cared for. The Revocant will still be able to revocate throughout his/her life, despite their dementia.
The tribes deal with the damaging symptoms of Revocance in different ways. Some tribes care for the Revocant until he/she dies of natural causes, and meanwhile they make use of his/her Revocance, which is unaffected by the dementia. Some tribes ritually euthanize the Revocant once the symptoms become severe. Other tribes make use of a herbal remedy which reduces the progress of dementia and muscle weakness, but also removes the ability to revocate. This plant extract is thought to contain proteins similar in structure to the enzymes targeted by the Revocant's aberrant antibodies. This means that the antibodies target the plant proteins instead of the enzymes (competitive inhibition), thus reducing the effects of the disease. However, the remedy has severe side effects on the cardiovascular system, in the form of progressive hypertension (high blood pressure) and high risk of fatal myocardial infarction (heart attack). Because of this, a Revocant undergoing therapy with this herbal remedy rarely lives beyond the age of fifty.
Evolution of Life
Not one billion years after the formation of the planet, the first lifeforms are believed to have arisen inside the oceans of New Tython. At first no more than replicating strings of genetic material, they steadily but surely evolved into bacteria, then eukaryotes with endosymbionts. It is conjectured that, at this point, a small ice comet containing microorganisms from an unknown planet dropped into New Tython's waters and released its living cargo into the oceans, sparking a vigorous competition with the native microorganisms. This would explain the early evolution of multicellular organisms on the planet and the abnormally profuse diversification that took place during this period.
Fossil evidence shows that, by around two billion years BBY, complex multicellular organisms were already developing, very precociously by galactic standards. During the next several million years, a series of meteor impacts and severe tectonic movements split Harakoa's two supercontinents into thousands of smaller landmasses, at the same time isolating its seas and oceans to varying extents. It is believed that, after this tectonic upheaval subsided around 1.2 billion years BBY, there was an upsurge of new land-living animals. This meant that many aquatic species evolved separately to breathe air and "walk" on land, thus explaining the enormous variety of land animals seen today on Harakoa.
With regards to the land flora, it had already reached a high level of development and diversity by 1.2 billion years BBY, thus allowing the newly emerged land animals to prosper amid vegetation that had not yet evolved defenses against herbivores. As the many distinct ecosystems grew and established their roots, a slow movement of the planet's tectonic plates eventually brought the many smaller landmasses together to form the modern continents. This had a major impact on the evolution of land organisms, because many animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that had evolved separately on discrete landmasses now met and interacted for the first time.
Over the course of one billion years, this forced amalgamation of distinct ecosystems caused numerous cycles of upsurge and decline of certain animal phyla. For example, during the ice age around six hundred million years BBY, the giant furred ursidae of the northern tundras came to dominate almost the entire planet; while during the planet-wide volcanic ash storms of around four hundred million years BBY the chitinous arthropods of the equatorial deserts ruled Harakoa. During these periods, the myriad other lifeforms did not die out, but simply subsided, to reemerge once the hegemony of the time had declined.
Evolution of Harakonids
This rhythm began to wane around fifty million years ago, when a (taxonomic) family of primates, called the Harakonids, emerged from the western Milil'ean jungles. These adaptable omnivores had a distinct advantage over prey and predator, because they had developed a form of communication much more complex and efficient than any other Harakoan animal. This communication was possible because of the Harakonids' hollow cranial crest, which served as an amplifying chamber for howls and hoots let out through the nose. It also granted them a much wider range of pitch and tone than other wildlife. While still considered animals at this stage in their evolution, the Harakonids used their communication skills to assemble themselves into organized and well structured packs. Their group coordination gave them a distinct advantage when hunting prey, fleeing or fighting predators and searching for resource-rich territories.
The next major evolutionary leap occurred between 35 and 20 million years BBY. Fossil evidence shows that, during this period, the cranial crest and nasal cavity of Harakonids became much more intricate, able to produce a range of elaborate sounds approaching speech in complexity. Furthermore, intact skeletons of several animal species were found within Harakonid graveyards from this period. All of this is taken as evidence that the Harakonids were beginning to develop Sonance (see below) during this period. By using Sonance on herbivore herds and predators, the Harakonids laid down the rudimentary foundations of nomad pastoralism and hunter-gatherer tribal culture, long before the domestication of fire or the invention of stone tools.
The Harakonids did not achieve full-time bipedalism until around 700,000 years ago. In less than half a million years this was followed by a boom in technological and social advancement across the whole of Milil'ea and Sanulu. Because of their precocious communication skills, the Harakonids were able to race through the paleolithic and neolithic ages, and by around 1000 BBY metallurgy was prevalent in all Harakonid populations. Unlike many other prehistoric peoples, however, the Harakonids adhered to their nomadic lifestyle throughout their whole history.
Evidence of the first written records in around 800 BBY heralded a giant leap in Harakonid culture, and it is at this point that they diversified into the many tribes existing today. This marks the point where Harakonid prehistory ends and Harakoan history begins.