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The Mezzels (/'mɛ.zɜlz/) were a sentient species of semi-humanoids native to Mezlagob in the Mezlag sector of the Unknown Regions. They were the founding species of what ultimately became the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob and largely responsible for many of its governing policies. The Mezzels were also the progenitors of the Near-Mezzel Hudrelans.

Biology and appearance

Standing almost uniformly 1.52 meters (5'0") tall, Mezzels appeared similar to one another in the eyes of many alien species. They had rubbery hides in various shades of green and blue; they were unable to sweat, but with sufficient food intake and rest could internally regulate their own body temperatures. Mezzel youth had a range of body types, but aging Mezzels tended to be overweight without careful regulation of diet and exercise to which few bothered to attend.

Mezzels had ears on short stalks, which sprouted from their heads roughly forty-five degrees away from the center of the top of their skulls. The ear stalks were flexible and could rotate at will, though they often turned involuntarily toward sudden, loud noises. Mezzel eyes were located on their faces in roughly the same location as on other humanoids, but were distinctive because their eyelids could retract completely, giving the eyes a bulging look when the Mezzels were startled. Mezzels had poorly-developed olfactory senses and a single slit-nostril, and could generally only detect scents within a meter of their own bodies.

Mezzels gave birth to live young which did not nurse. Mezzels reached physical maturity around the age of sixteen standard years, and had lifespans which generally topped out around seventy years, although a few Mezzels lived longer.

Society and culture

Mezzel culture placed great importance on power, which the Mezzels understood as the ability to compel other beings to do what they wanted. This took many forms, including military service, religious life and preaching, and economic enterprise, but the most favored form of power was direct control through political success. In eras and areas where the Mezzels had elections, they were fiercely competitive and involved regular accusations of bribery and under-the-table deals; in dictatorial times, Mezzels often competed with one another for the favor of those in power, while others schemed to become the dictators or oligarchs themselves.

While Mezzels generally looked on one another as potentials liabilities and assets, they had intimate relations with their immediate families. Mezzels were expected to succeed beyond the accomplishments of their parents; those who did not were looked on unfavorably by both their families and society in general. Most Mezzels had only one or two children, preferring to concentrate the wealth and power they had accumulated in fewer descendants while simultaneously providing better living conditions to those children during their minority.

Women were traditionally ostracized from political participation in Mezzel society. The sudden and enforced ability of women to participate equally in political life following the reforms of the Golden Empire caused some societal upheaval.

History

The omnivorous Mezzels evolved in approximately the middle of the food chain. They ate smaller herbivores, but were themselves preyed upon by several larger predators. They developed as a group species, usually with a single male Mezzel leading the pack. Biologists speculated that both their wide eyes—which offered extensive peripheral vision—and their rotating ear stalks evolved to enable the Mezzels to more easily detect approaching predators, as well as compensating for their less viable sense of smell.

As the Mezzels developed sentience, communities started under the leadership of a single Mezzel each; the few which tried group leadership usually dissolved into infighting. Mezzels could hang on to their leadership positions only as long as they protected their tribes from predators or other Mezzels. If a Mezzel chieftain managed to survive a devastating predator attack or battle, he was usually challenged to combat by his rival. The winner would assume leadership of the tribe.

Even in early days, other forms of influence made themselves known. Early Mezzel leaders were war chiefs as well as political leaders, but distinguished warriors and heroes often had favored positions in the chief's staff—the chief could associate himself with a hero's success, while the hero could use that very success to command the chief's attention. Religious leaders consecrated new chieftains and administrators, and their favor (or lack thereof) could instill or eradicate public confidence in the chieftain.

As time went on and settlements became permanent cities, Mezzels hunted their predators into extinction and their conflicts primarily became with one another. As Mezlagob entered a feudal/manorial period, different forms of government were tried. Every stable society had a single leader at its pinnacle, but some tried democracy while others went with inherited monarchy, and still others had religious leaders select a "divinely ordained" successor to the late leader. While duels to the death for supremacy had fallen out of practice by this point, corruption was rife and success generally hinged on influence over those in power, not the electorate.

Mezzel states grew and fought one another, but also related through economics and diplomacy. Complex networks of alliances arose among major and minor powers, and a war between two countries often expanded to become a continent- or even globe-spanning mass war as other states became enmeshed in their allies' conflicts. No fewer that seven world wars wracked Mezlagob over a century and a half before a single, intergovernmental organization was finally formed to arbitrate disputes. Membership in this elite commission became the new political summit, and as favors were traded for influence, the organization gradually became a world government itself.

Around 6,000 BBY, Mezzel scientists began developing spaceflight technology. Within four hundred years they were experimenting with faster-than-light travel, though their hyperdrives remained primitive compared to those in use in the known galaxy. In approximately 5,600 BBY, the Mezzels began sending hyperspace-capable exploration vessels out in all directions. None ever returned, but a ship sent to Hudrel would have far-reaching implications for Mezzel society in the future.

Over the following millennia, Mezzel society progressed technologically, developing blaster weaponry and shielding devices. The world government broke down as warfare consumed the globe again in 3,029 BBY, but in the aftermath the Mezzels rebuilt their society with a stronger global presence. The new world government had stronger enforcement powers and the only standing army authorized on the entire planet. The government developed into a dictatorship, and began colonization and mining efforts throughout the Mezlagob system.

By 800 BBY, the Mezzels had begun launching hyperspace-capable probes to systems nearby. They began importing their weapons and shielding technology onto spacecraft, intending to be prepared to meet any threat they might encounter—or take over any less-developed society. The Mezzel populace was entranced by the notion of spreading the influence of its entire species to other worlds. Mezzel probes deployed to Hudrel came back with a curious report of Mezzel-like sentients on the surface. When explorers from Mezlagob's government journeyed there, they were startled to find that a Mezzel exploration force had evolved into a separate (although biologically compatible) species. The Hudrelans had also developed a massive army of droids, including battle droids.

The Mezzels and Hudrelans found themselves united in the goal of a galaxy-spanning empire, and combined the Mezzel fleet and the Hudrelan droids into an army. Their first "target", however, took an unexpected turn. Rather than conquer Telacia and its Dronos population, the Hudrelans persuaded their Mezzel allies to recruit the intellectual Dronos. The next visit also produced an ally rather than a target as the three species were joined by the Umdals of Ommol. Fearful of spreading power any thinner, the Mezzel leader insisted the government's ruling body be capped at four Tetrarchs, and the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob was born.

Over the ensuing centuries, the Mezzels dominated the Tetrarchy, and from its inception around 600 BBY to its demise in 102 ABY there was always at least one Mezzel among the four Tetrarchs. Mezzels often served as administrators for newly acquired Tetrarchy words and, with the Umdals, regularly held senior military command posts. Mezlagob itself acquired inordinate wealth from taxes levied against vassal planets and other member worlds. The already-industrialized planet became an ecumenopolis, and as Tetrarchy subjects increasingly resented their government and the Mezzels became a major face of Tetrarchy oppression, Mezlagob became something of a sanctuary to Mezzels where they could be around like-minded beings.

Tetrarchy spacefarers had generally conquered resisting populations without difficulty, with the notable exception of Mir Kaldu`uz. However, in 100 ABY, they skirmished with a small group of capital ships at Quadia. Subsequent prods met the force of the Golden Empire's Armada, and in short order the Great Liberation began. Many Mezzels were surprised by the Empire's strength and aggression, but welcomed the opportunity to see their navy triumph over a viable enemy.

When the Empire suffered a punishing defeat at the Battle of Hudrel, Mezzel leaders began to bicker about who would have rights to govern the Empire's systems. The debate ground to a shocked halt when the Empire surged back for an odds-defying victory at the Battle of Tizgo V. In short order, the entire Xoquon sector fell to the Empire, with most of its systems joining willingly. Mezzels on those planets were usually deeply-entrenched Tetrarchy collaborators, and many were executed by the Empire or even killed by mobs of civilians. Panic began to grip Mezlagob and the Mezzels on the Tetrarchy's other worlds.

The Capture of the Vall`to sector, and especially the capture of Vall`to itself, only exacerbated panic. The Tetrum suffered skyrocketing inflation as the Bank of Mezlagob was unable to support the economy of even what remained of the Tetrarchy. Rumors spread that the Empire had endorsed genocide of the Mezzel species, leading some Mezzels to enlist in the failing military in hopes of at least dying more quickly and others to apocalyptic mania. When the Empire finally arrived at Mezlagob, however, the commanders of the Tetrarchy fleet surrendered, earning the Battle of Mezlagob the nickname "the Unfought Battle".

Although there was no Mezzel genocide, the species did suffer in the early years of the Empire's reign. Most of Mezlagob's surplus wealth was confiscated and given to developing or recovering worlds, while the worst architects and perpetrators of Tetrarchy abuses were executed and their property seized by the state. Some Mezzel companies, such as SuisMez, were able to negotiate deals to sell to the Empire itself, but many languished when the Tetrarchy's protective tariffs were abolished and genuine competition was allowed.

For decades after the Great Liberation, species of former Tetrarchy vassal worlds often loathed the Mezzels for their complicity in the Tetrarchy's rule. While the Empire's laws protected Mezzels from formal discrimination in employment, they found little welcome on foreign worlds. As a result, many Mezzels applied to return to their homeworld, which quickly became overcrowded and forced immigration restrictions.

In the galaxy

For many species who had languished under the rule of the Tetrarchy, the Mezzels would forever be associated with that government's abuses. The executions of Tetrarchs Idiian Gundo and Catel Embri (along with Umdal Tetrach Lahek Gril) were watched by billions of beings, and many planets attempted to defy Royal discrimination protections by making it difficult for Mezzels to find work or immigrate. Though the Empire diligently cracked down on such abuses, popular sentiment remained stacked against the Mezzels for decades.

Though many beings had difficulties serving under Mezzel officers in the Armada, and unfavorable reports from superiors often limited Mezzel officers' careers to junior-level service, a few rose to prominence. Foremost among these was Royal Navy officer Meerk Hozzit, who was captain of Legate Salome Hrek's flagship, the Redoubt, during the Vagaari War. Hozzit went on to become captain of the Sith Star.

Appearances

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