Much of Gamus's surface was flat plains, stretching kilometer after uneventful kilometer. A significant portion was desert, and the surface featured both sand dune deserts and dry, rocky wastes. Small borders of steppe separated these two environments. In a few particularly humid regions, jungles had developed.
The native Xhal originated in cave systems underground. Their preferred diet of fungus was most easily grown and farmed in the dank, moist caverns under the surface. While the Xhal eventually experienced some success growing these fungi in the jungle regions of Gamus, the caves remained the primary farm region. Cave networks often stretched for dozens of kilometers underground; the largest recorded was 187 kilometers from entrance to the farthest point.
Some of Gamus's surface water was contained in its small ice caps, but most was spread out among lakes, rivers, and small seas. Its lack of large oceans contributed to the many large arid regions.
Society and culture
Under the rule of the Golden Empire, Greater and Lesser Xhal had equal rights. Despite this, Greater Xhal often owned companies and controlled other means of production on Gamus, leaving Lesser Xhal as employees and workers. Labor disputes were common on the Empire, and regularly saw one subspecies facing off against the other rather than a mix of both on each side.
The use of Greater Xhal mind control pheremones to influence or control Lesser Xhal was illegal under Royal law, treated as a form of slavery. Non-Xhal officers of the Empire were stationed on the planet to ensure compliance with this order and investigate alleged violations. Every few years, a Greater Xhal (usually a corporate manager) would be arrested and executed for violating this provision.
Having evolved in the underground cave system, the Xhal preferred to live in tight quarters. Though they eventually built cities on the surface, most offworlders found them to be cramped and uncomfortable. As a result, very few aliens immigrated to Gamus. The Xhal, equally uncomfortable with wide-open spaces as aliens were with cramped ones, generally built spaceports on the fringes of their cities, rather than in central locations which would disrupt their architectural styles.
The Xhal of Gamitor evolved as prey for several large surface predators. Their underground settlements were developed where predators could not easily reach them. Greater Xhal used Lesser Xhal as slave labor to slowly expand their settlements. In time, when the Xhal had developed weapons, they expanded to the surface and were able to stake out colonies and cities while holding predators at bay.
The Xhal occupied most of their homeworld's surface, their exoskeletons allowing them to endure the temperate plains and the hotter jungles with equal ease, although the icy regions at the poles were too cold for them. They maintained large fungus farms underground, many of which grew into and replaced the Xhal cities which had started there. Xhal societies often expanded by conquest, with Lesser Xhal acting as armies for Greater Xhal officers. The Greater Xhal were the scientists and innovators of their nations, but even as they advanced robotic technology to automate manufacturing, the Lesser Xhal remained enslaved for farming and military duty, as well as for personal servitude to Greater Xhal families.
In 256 BBY, several Xhal states collaborated to colonize Gamitor, which shared Gamus's orbit. Many Lesser Xhal were exported as slave labor, with Greater Xhal to control them. At roughly the same time, an abolitionist spirit began to take hold in some Xhal cities. Less traditional Greater Xhal began to feel it was inappropriate to keep Lesser Xhal as slaves. The idea was generally met with scorn, and when Lesser Xhal were released from control by some abolition-minded Greater Xhal, they were quickly enslaved anew by others. Some states which attempted to forge coexisting societies of all Xhal were invaded by enemy states.
Gamitor's swamps proved a fertile breeding ground for Gamus's native fungi, and the colony world quickly became a major producer of foodstuffs. Gamus's population exploded as a result, with Xhal cities expanding rapidly. However, Greater Xhal in the colonies worked their Lesser Xhal slaves all the more furiously on farms, which only inspired abolitionists on Gamus to struggle harder for their cause.
In 67 ABY, Lesser Xhal rose up against their masters on Gamitor, leading a brutal rebellion that saw most of Gamitor's Greater Xhal population executed in a matter of weeks. Civil war began between the colonies. Gamus attempted to regain control by sending massive numbers of Greater Xhal to restore order, but the Lesser Xhal of Gamitor responded by shutting down food transportation to Gamus. Gamus's population had become too great to be sustained with its own resources. Gamitor demanded full independence and the immediate transfer of all Lesser Xhal to Gamitor; Gamus responded with attacks and threats to the Lesser Xhal still on Gamus itself. Abolition became sharply polarized, with advocates pointing to the demands of Gamitor as evidence that the time was past ripe and opponents accusing abolitionists of feeding the flames of rebellion.
The ongoing conflict came to an abrupt end in 106 ABY, when Gamitor joined the Golden Empire. The Empire invited Gamus to join its fold as well and, faced with a rebellious colony now backed by an Armada the Xhal could never hope to defeat, the Xhal nations united to join the Empire and at least put themselves on equal footing. Royal edict banned the use of Greater Xhal mind control pheremones, but also prohibited physical reprisals by Lesser Xhal and reinstated trade between Gamus and Gamitor. However, the Empire seized some assets from individuals and corporations who had made the most use of slave labor and distributed them to newly freed slaves.
Given the lingering racial contention on Gamus, few aliens spent much time there. However, the planet did a small offworld trade in minerals.