The Tetrarchy of Mezlagob was an oligarchic dictatorship located in the Unknown Regions. Led by the four Tetrarchs, it was founded in 600 BBY by Mezlagob, Hudrel, Ommol, and Telacia. It endured for over seven centuries before it became embroiled in a war with the Golden Empire which ultimately resulted in the Tetrarchy's collapse and absorption into the Empire.
Mezzel explorers had achieved functional hyperspace technology by roughly 650 BBY and begun using it to explore nearby worlds, seeking planets with sufficient resources to support the growth of Mezlagob's population. When it became clear that the Mezzels and their advanced weaponry were more than sufficient to repel native predators on those worlds they found, Mezlagob's leaders began to consider the idea of forming an empire. In 600 BBY, their forces encountered other sentients, but they were not to be Mezlagob's first conquest.
The inhabitants of Hudrel were Hudrelans, Near-Mezzel descendants of Mezzel spacefarers from Mezlagob's original hyperspace exploration some five millennia before. Surprised to encounter a related species, the Mezzels treated with the Hudrelans and found their cousins were receptive to the idea of conquest. Even better, Hudrel had produced thousands of battle droids, enough to supplement the army of Mezzels assembled on Mezlagob.
Mezzel scouts encountered a probe traced to Telacia, and the combined Mezzel/Hudrelan forces were prepared for their first invasion. However, the Hudrelans insisted on allowing their protocol droids a chance to test adaptive and interpretive software to comprehend the Dronos language. When they had succeeded, the Hudrelans persuaded the Mezzels that the Dronos could be useful. Their complex language, Orhyo, was ideally suited to bureaucracy and letigiousness, which could be as effective at controlling populations as force.
The Mezzels found a more kindred spirit on Ommol, where the native Umdals proved themselves adept at warfare. Though they did not possess modern spacefaring or weapons technology, they were ruthless warriors who fought hard even against the landing force. Eventually, the Hudrelans used their droids to comprehend the Umdal language and sought to bring the Umdals into their fold. In return for Mezzel weapons and defensive systems, Ommol forged a single, planet-spanning nation and turned the world into a foundry for the government's military force.
Unwilling to spread power any thinner, the Mezzels met with their collaborators and discussed the form of government. Since none of the species would agree to dictatorship by one being of another race, they created an oligarchic system in which four beings would rule. One leader from each world was selected, and they became the first Tetrarchs.
Onward and outward
The Tetrarchs built up their military gradually, using resources from both the founding worlds and the colonies Mezlagob had previously established. They wished to present themselves as absolute to any worlds they subsequently found, rather than inviting yet more species to seek equality with the founders. Influxes of resources allowed the Hudrelans to build up more legions of battle droids while the ranks of living soldiers swelled and Ommol took over starship production.
The Tetrarchy initially focused on acquisition of systems nearby, in what would eventually become the Mezlag sector. Dolomir and its knowledge of astrogation were important acquisitions, although Dolomir also housed the Dolomir Space Bureau, which subtly took over monitoring hyperspace travel data. This, coupled with the foundation of the Dolomir Merchant Officers Academy, allowed the system to become vital to the Tetrarchy even without a Doloy in the governing cabal.
Other Mezlag sector worlds were acquired by force, and the plan of the Tetrarchs paid off. Both those systems with primitive technology and those which had developed laser weaponry and spacecraft on their own were no match for the might of the Tetrarchy armed forces. Some worlds that acquiesced to the Tetrarchy without violence were admitted as full member systems; others who fought became enslaved, lesser status vassal worlds. But Mezlagob, Hudrel, Ommol, and Telacia still drew in more wealth than any other planets.
In 214 BBY, the Tetrarchy extended farther than it had ever gone before, braving new hyperlanes to the Vall`to sector. Fighting there was more difficult, as some planets had been settled by species from the known galaxy; even though that information was lost, they retained modern weaponry. But the conquests succeeded nonetheless, and the capture of Vall`to gave the Tetrarchs new technology, such as the turbolasers which replaced their own weapons, merely large laser cannons.
Vall`to also possessed the Vall`to Sector Bank, which had grown rich by financing colonization efforts from Vall`to and trade with other systems. The Bank arranged to finance Tetrarchy expeditions in the sector and new resource acquisitions by the government. It eventually grew so wealthy that it bought out controlling interests in other companies in the Mezlag sector. When it had grown too powerful to be ignored, the Bank's agents convinced the Tetrarchs to back the Tetrum against the Vall`to Sector Bank rather than the Bank of Mezlagob.
Shortly after acquiring Vall`to, the Tetrarchy experienced its first major internal rebellion. It was at this time that shock tanks were first deployed, wiping out thousands of rebels. Survivors had their families arrested and executed by shock tank blast as well, as disincentive against further rebellion.
The Tetrarchy reached Xoquon in 100 BBY and established it as the capital of the Xoquon sector. Nearby Tizgo V became a new military depot to supplement Ommol and Baes. The need to find new hyperlanes in this unexplored region of space made progress slower than it had been in the well-mapped Vall`to sector.
The Great Liberation
In 100 ABY, Tetrarchy scouts found Quadia. They also found a trio of defensive patrol ships, and fled the subsequent engagement. Unused to having to flee, the Tetrarchs authorized a stronger movement, this time aimed at nearby Yin. The Tetrarchy battle group directed there encountered an even stronger fleet, arrayed in defense formation and resembling the ships at Quadia. The Tetrarchy force retreated from the Skirmish at Yin as well, but one of its vessels was captured.
It was with more than a little surprise that the Tetrarchs found themselves on the defensive when the Golden Empire launched an assault on Wemod. The planet was taken, as were several other vassal worlds in the Empire. The Tetrarchs called on their supreme commander, Admiral Garyth Quorr, to organize a retaliatory strategy. He was planning that very thing when the Empire attacked Hudrel.
The Tetrarchy's numerical superiority and Quorr's tactics won the day at Hudrel, and the Empire retreated with heavy losses. Quorr organized an offense that retook the Xoquon sector and made incursions into the Empire's territory. Though Tetrarchy commanders were repulsed from Yin and Bolera, they successfully took Irestego and a major staging area at Tershin. After analyzing intelligence from these worlds, the Tetrarchs authorized a full invasion of the Romasi sector.
Facing destruction, the Empire decided to defend itself by attacking. Its full invasion fleet struck at Tizgo V, and the battle there saw much of the defense fleet captured or destroyed and the planet itself taken. The Tetrarchs were caught by surprise, but even as they considered a retaliatory, all-out attack on the Empire, Tariun Sakaros successfully conducted a raid on Ommol that destroyed the shock tank factory there. The Tetrarchs tried to suppress knowledge of the incident, then pass it off as an industrial accident when the story got out, but behind closed doors they were panicking, worried that the Empire now had the ability to get in and out of even the Tetrarchy's most heavily fortified worlds.
As the Tetrarchs commanded increased defenses in the Mezlag sector, Admiral Quorr insisted on rallying defenses for the Vall`to sector as well, feeling the Empire was more likely to strike their first than risk a second crushing defeat in the Tetrarchy's home territory. The Tetrarchs, feeling their personal safety was in jeopardy, were unmoved, but gave Quorr leave to use the Vall`to sector fleet as he saw fit. While the Tetrarchy concentrated defenses on its key worlds, the Empire liberated its fallen systems and took the Xoquon sector entirely.
Quorr's estimate proved correct, and the Tetrarchy fought an unsuccessful defense of Baes before Quorr was forced to retreat to Vall`to. There he was killed by the Empire's fleet, and Vall`to fell. The Empire's control over the planet and the Vall`to Sector Bank was bad enough for the Tetrarchy, but the Bank openly decided to back the Royal Credit. Economic panic gripped the Mezlag sector as the value of the Tetrum plummeted. The Bank of Mezlagob offered to back the currency again, but its resources were too few to sustain the currency even when it was only in use among the Tetrarchy's dwindling list of systems.
Just as bad, the Dronos Tetrarch Dourshe had died at Vall`to. The Tetrarchs, feeling a more reliable species was needed, appointed a second Mezzel, Catel Embri, to the group. Not long after, however, Hudrelan Tetrarch Pexereca Tainer was assassinated. Before the Tetrarchs could agree on yet another replacement, Hudrel and Dolomir were taken and Telacia surrendered without a fight. The three surviving Tetrarchs took refuge in their newly appointed flagship, seeking a quick escape should Mezlagob fall. When the Empire arrived for battle, however, the Tetrarchy fleet surrendered. Umdal Tetrarch Lahek Gril committed suicide rather than face Rin, but the Tetrarchy soldiers aboard the flagship seized Catel Embri and Idiian Gundo and surrendered them to the Empire.
The two Mezzels were executed live on the Royal HoloNet, and most Tetrarchy worlds contacted the Empire to surrender. The last major resistance was thwarted at the Battle of Ommol, where the Tetrarchy fleet was destroyed and most of its soldiers killed or executed. Historians retrospectively declared that the capture of Ommol had marked the end of the Tetrarchy's seven century reign.
Government and politics
The Tetrarchy was ruled at its highest levels by four Tetrarchs. The original four were the four leaders of the constituent races of the government, one from each species. In the future, when a Tetrarch died, a unanimous vote of the surviving three was necessary to appoint a new Tetrarch. A three-fourths majority was necessary for conducting other business.
The Tetrarchs had authority to initiate battle campaigns, negotiate with planets, make laws binding on the Tetrarchy, and install subordinate executives on individual planets. The four Tetrarchs were assisted by a large bureaucracy, headquartered on Mezlagob but with regional subdivisions on the sector capitals of Vall`to and Xoquon. Each had a personal support staff of hundreds of beings, and the Tetrarchs as a group had a number of military, economic, and political advisors.
Each world of the Tetrarchy had a governor appointed by the Tetrarchs, and most of these had regional or continental governors reporting to them.
In its early centuries, the Tetrarchy developed a two-tiered system of membership. Planets were either "member worlds" or "vassal worlds". Citizens of member worlds had more rights, such as the right to appeal judicial rulings, lower taxes, and, if condemned to death, being executed in less torturous ways, such as decapitation or taking poison.
Vassal worlds were usually subject to military occupation and kept in a state of quasi-slavery. Citizens of vassal worlds (Tetrarchy "subjects") paid higher taxes, had no right to judicial appeal, and were put to death by gassing or hanging. Subjects also could not hold political office in the Tetrarchy, and vassal worlds were usually governed by agents dispatched by the Tetrarchy itself. Vassal worlds themselves received noticeably lower economic stimuli from the central government as compared to member worlds. Exploitation of resources on member worlds was generally more circumspect than on vassal worlds. The general mindset among rulers was that member worlds were part of the Tetrarchy, while vassal worlds existed to serve the Tetrarchy.
It was possible for one type of world to become the other; vassal worlds which demonstrated great loyalty were sometimes later admitted to full membership, while dissident or troublemaking member worlds could be relegated to vassal world status. As with most governmental business, the admission and classification of new worlds was subject to the decision of the Tetrarchs. The founding worlds of Mezlagob, Hudrel, Telacia, and Ommol were specially protected as "permanent member worlds".
Law enforcement and judiciary
Many crimes were punished harshly on Tetrarchy worlds, especially vassal worlds. Death or various forms of mutilation were common. Debtors, political dissidents, and tax evaders were often sentenced to slave labor. Each system has its own law enforcement bodies, and the Tetrarchy maintained a government-wide investigative agency, as well as a secret police bureau which handled dissidents and political enemies of the Tetrarchs.
The Tetrarchy had a many-layered judicial system, usually involving half a dozen or more layers on a single planet alone. While both parties to a criminal or civil suit had the right to appeal on member worlds, the system was structured to favor the government, and often corrupt judiciary officials would find ways to delay or fail to process the appeals of those the government opposed.
Capitals and depots
To both coordinate and separate political and military influence, each sector of the Tetrarchy had a political capital, which administered Tetrarchy policy and bureaucracy in the region, and a "military depot", which housed and produced troops, vessels, and weapons. Military depots were usually deliberately designed for such production that they could not sustain their efforts without contributions and support from other planets.
Mezlagob was the capital of the Tetrarchy, and also the regional capital of the Mezlag sector. Ommol was its military depot, although Hudrel also produced a substantial number of Tetrarchy battle droids. Vall`to was the capital of the Vall`to sector, backed by the military depot at Baes; in the Xoquon sector, Xoquon was the capital and Tizgo V the military depot.
The Tetrum was the official currency of the Tetrarchy, initially backed by the Bank of Mezlagob until the Vall`to Sector Bank supplanted it. Each Tetrum chip carried an image of the four reigning Tetrarchs. Vall`to itself became one of the Tetrarchy's economic hubs; its loss toward the end of the Great Liberation, coupled with the Golden Empire's capture of the Xoquon sector and its resources, was sufficient to cripple the Tetrarchy's economy.
Interplanetary trade supported the Tetrarchy, and taxation funded its political bureaucracy and military machine. Member worlds received larger percentages of total tax surpluses than vassal worlds, as well as higher-quality education and better healthcare. Tetrarchy supporters and collaborators among the populations of vassal worlds were sometimes allowed to move up the bureaucracy and serve elsewhere, creating a brain drain on some vassal planets.
Society and culture
Orhyo, the native tongue of the Dronos, was the official language of the Tetrarchy. It was used as a means of control. All government business was conducted and all laws written in Orhyo, but only those with access to sufficient education in its use—those on member worlds—could truly grasp it. Subjects on vassal worlds were generally ignorant of legal details, which sometimes resulted in criminal convictions, the seizure of private property, and overpaid taxes.
The Tetrarchy Ministry of Information owned all broadcast media which functioned on interplanetary levels. Technically charged with distributing information to all member worlds, it actually functioned as a propaganda arm of the government, spreading Tetrarchy-friendly stories while twisting or completely suppressing news unfavorable to the government.
Among the many differences between citizens and subjects was that Tetrarchy citizens were allowed to own and carry private small arms, where possession of blaster weapons by subjects on vassal worlds was an imprisonable offense. Neither group was allowed to own military-grade weapons.
Trial by jury did not exist in the Tetrarchy, where beings were tried by judges alone. In cases when the accused had no higher court to which it could appeal, sentences such as maiming or execution were usually carried out the same day.
Freedom of speech was not protected, although peaceful protests were more tolerated on member worlds than vassal worlds. The freedom of religion was generally respected unless a religion's tenets put it at odds with the government; if religious leaders became too outspoken, they tended to disappear. Proscribed political opponents who were arrested usually had their entire families arrested with them and their property confiscated.
In general, sex-based restrictions on member worlds were left alone; if a planet offered equal rights to both sexes, that was continued, and if it favored one sex over the other, that was perpetuated as well. However, no woman ever became a Tetrarch.
The Tetrarchy military had two primary divisions: the Army and Navy. The Army consisted of a mix of living soldiers and battle droids. Both were used in occupation and invasion campaigns, but all droids were unranked, considered weapons themselves at the disposal of living officers.
The Tetrarchs had command over the entire military, but tactical command was vested in a single Supreme Commander selected by a vote of the Tetrarchs. The Supreme Commander was assisted by a civilian staff who handled budget and finance matters, as well as purchasing logistics. More than one Supreme Commander went on to become a Tetrarch himself.
Born and headquartered in the Mezlag sector, the Tetrarchy grew to include eighty-three worlds, including forty-nine member worlds and thirty-four vassal worlds. Aside from Mezlagob, Hudrel, Ommol, and Telacia, it is known to have also included Vall`to, Baes, Xoquon, Tizgo V, Wemod, Synno, Irimor, Dolomir, Haerch, Rubutu, Deshad and Varga.
Behind the scenes
The Tetrarchy of Mezlagob was partially inspired (at least conceptually and in name) by the Pentarchs of Clothar in The Middleman.