The draci are the youngest race to be integrated into the United Liberate Republic, having commenced the development of civilization at around the time of the human Renaissance. By comparison to the other species that make up the ULR the draci also advanced the most quickly prior to first encounter, some 35% faster in comparison to human technological advancement. Despite providing some of the most lethal and deadly warriors available in the UCF, draci are well known for their breakthroughs in the fields of science, and there are rarely any ULR research teams that do not have at least one draci on hand.
Fully grown draci typically stand at 3.18m in height and have relatively light bodies for their size, an adaptation commonly seen in Earth-based life forms for agility or flight. While their appearance suggests that they are complete reptiles, draci are endothermic in nature. As with most chordates native to Leth'aiton, draci are hexapodal with midlimbs situated a third of the way down the torso, roughly at the base of the rib cage. With a wingspan of 7.92m when fully grown, draci have effective flight capabilities and can become airborne with a boost of momentum from jumping or running in a 2g environment. Like sangheili, draci are tetradactyl with opposable thumbs on both the innermost and outermost digit.
Draci facial features include two pairs of eyes, which are arranged in a single band that permits binocular vision from both sets - the outermost-pair typically having a visible spectrum from 450 to 820 nanometres, and the inner-most pair typically ranging between 250 and 620 nanometres. Segmented plate-like structures typically run from the top of the snout to the back of the head over the forehead, tapering as a shallow crested ridge down the line of symmetry. Draci also possess jaws that are equal in size to the rest of the skull, giving the overall shape of the head a rectangular side-profile akin to that of a particular monster from a human film made in 998 M2.
Unique to draci as a sentient species is the bombardier gland contained underneath the tongue, named as a result of similarities between it and the defence mechanism featured in bombardier beetles on Earth. In most draci, this gland is responsible for the production of a natural form of napalm, which can be projected up to twenty feet away in the manner of a flamethrower. Across the draci population however, the function of this gland varies between locales due to genetics and diet, with the two most common minorities being those that produce concentrated sulphuric acid or used as electrostatic capacitors. The ability to produce cryogenic solvents is rare in terms of total population, but not uncommon in some clans.
As a result of Leth'aiton's high gravity, it was necessary for native life forms to adapt accordingly. This is evident in the hexapodal skeletal configuration present in skeletal remains of early amphibian-like creatures, where the weight of the creature was dispersed more efficiently on land. This evolution eventually led to greater versatility amongst its descendants, including at least two possible coexisting sentient species prior to their subsequent extinctions by super-eruption and territorial invasion by pre-civilization draci.
The development of two pairs of eyes in vertebrates is thought to have been associated in conjunction with early ancestors analogous to the four-eyed fish on Earth, with later specialization to distinguish two separate spectra at the same time. As seen with other native species that sexually reproduce, draci are capable of recognizing individuals by the reflection of ultraviolet light off of scale patterns, and gender is identified by metabolic rate - females have a higher core temperature than males.
Even with most of the solar radiation reflected by its Van Allen radiation belt, Leth'aiton experiences higher levels of radiation than most inhabitable worlds, although not enough to be potentially lethal to an unprotected human. Nonetheless, the scales of Leth'aiton's reptile-like life forms, including draci possess some metallic properties for minimal protection.
Draci civilization started sometime during the time of the Renaissance on Earth (350-600 M.2). By the early 61st Century on Earth, copper and bronze ornaments and tools were firmly becoming widespread in many early draci settlements, and by the 76th Century, draci metallurgists discovered how to produce steel. Unfortunately, not every discovery or invention produced in each time period survived - it was common for draci civilization to re-invent and rediscover technology repeatedly due to attacks from local wildlife and rival clans up until the successful transition into Tier 6. Whether the latter was attributed to their ancient beliefs is not known.
It has been recorded in Draci history that they achieved Tier 6 twice - once in the 84th Century and again in the 90th Century, rediscovering steam power no more than five times in the process. With industry firmly established, a steady pace of advancement occurred over the longest period of construction seen up to that point. Due to draci biology and the presence of winged species large enough to be used as mounts however, aeronautics developed at a slower pace in comparison until the development of jet engines in the 93th century, at the outset of the achievement of Tier 5.
With this new development was the start of a quick, brief surge of draci technological advancements. Scholars believe that the unique location of Leth'aiton, along with the technological level of draci society, influenced two generations of draci to pursue space exploration, including the launch of no less than 500 manned research missions of which ten landed on each of the neighbouring airless moons in order of Mih'ro (281-290 M.10), Kraneth'se (283-292 M.10), Asil'bora (285-294 M.10), and Lin'set (287-296 M.10). Not relenting on exploring the cosmos, the draci established their first off-world colony on Mih'ro near the end of 303 M.10. However, it would not be for another 50 years before the need for off-world colonization became imperative, heralding the achievement of Tier 4.
Draci colonization and inter-clan warfare temporarily kept the population level on Leth'aiton in check. However, the colonies had become weary of control from Leth'aiton. Internally decaying from stagnation and politics, the colonies openly revolted in 386 M.10, overthrowing the seat of power in a short and bloody rebellion that lasted for four years. Two thirds of the entire draci population were killed as a result of small-scale nuclear bombardments, delaying future stagnation.
Reviving themselves from the aftermath in short order, in 471 M.10, draci scientists stationed at Kraneth'se uncovered alien encryptions beneath the surface later revealed to be schematics for a Slip-Space FTL reactor. 13 years later, small research outposts were established within a 20-lightyear radius of the homeworld, thanks to this new technology. In addition, this led to further expectations amongst the scientifically-inclined that alien life exists or has existed elsewhere in the universe.
For unknown reasons, in 603 M.10, growing unrest between fundamentalist groups and scientists erupted into a civil war. Cases of internal fighting within military units caused devastating blows that would only see full recovery 30 years later in Post-Contact times, especially when jiralhanae warships arrived in-system to support the Theologist war effort in 615 M.10.
In 624 M.10, a Republic patrol cruiser intercepted draci transmissions that led to a research outpost, establishing first contact. Decryption eventually led to the Republic`s involvement in the draci civil war at the side of the Technologists, culminating in an official victory one year later for the Technologists and their new-found allies.
For a species that developed quite quickly and recently, draci social structure is very stable. Draci use a clan structure whose hierarchy is determined by the achievement of meaningful personal goals that both contribute to the clan`s honour and their respective field of study. Because of this, clan cooperation is encouraged but not enforced, and it has been known for inter-clan projects to break apart if cooperative work is not equitably shared. As clan structure is developed from achievements, clans are also distinguished by the types of achievements their members accomplish, ranging between exploration, discovery, innovation, and combat.
Child-bearing begins individually up until the child turns 14 years old, at the start of puberty. Then, they are sent to join a clan barracks where they learn the disciplines that they will use in adult life. As a rite into adulthood for graduation, draci adolescents undergo an intimidation ceremony when they approach the age of 25. At this point, clan elders devise fear-inducing scenarios using a dark, claustrophobic maze, with clan warriors hidden in concealed alcoves. Pit traps, spiked walls, moving platforms, and feral animals are also used to effect.
Clan survival and legacy is a recurring theme in draci culture. For survival, clans treated children and adolescents as though they were not members of any clan until they undergo the intimidation ceremony. Clan honour demands that draci youth of one clan be taken in and brought to maturity by the rival clans that had partaken in the eradication of the adult population, with complete allowance of birth-clan heraldry. Many clans were often deterred from annihilating rivals on the account that their rivals had a large number of youth in their care.
The clan was a major component of draci life upon reaching adulthood - out of tradition, each draci that has passed the intimidation ceremony must belong to a clan. Hermits are unheard of, and draci without prior experience in the company of a more individualistic species do not comprehend the reasoning behind solitary lifestyles. As adults they may continue living with the clan or leave to join another clan whether by choice or by clan decision; in both cases, they may still carry their birth clan's heraldry if they so wish. Since contact this tradition has merely become symbolic as a sense of identity, despite the persevered maintenance of traditionalist views.
Draci also value fearlessness as a predator-based species. Acts of bravery and initiative are applauded universally and those who exhibit these acts are well-respected, even as enemy combatants. The phrase "vih'ro/veh'ra/hid'es leth'aiton nast teh'na" (he/she/they who is/are one with fear) is used as a verbal sign of respect for such individuals.
Many draci traditions have been made obsolete since they became a member-species of the United Liberate Republic, the inter-species mingling having a profound effect on social and cultural traditions. Despite this, values and symbolic traditions associated with culture unique to the draci persist as much as those of other member-species.
Ancient draci beliefs concerned themselves with the cycle of the heavens, placing most of its emphasis on Thim'aat, the gas giant that Leth'aiton orbits, and on Bahm'un, the nearby yellow dwarf star. Thim'aat's four other moons also served roles in these celestial beliefs, in conjunction with the entirety of their culture: Mih'ro, the Wanderer, marked the season of the Frontier; Kraneth'se, the Beacon, marked the season of the Scholar; Asil'bora, the Fortune, marked the season of the Tower; and Lin'set, the Vengeance, marked the season of the Blade.
As a species that developed under the presence of more than two other celestial bodies visible from the surface, draci were more open to pantheons and animism than to monotheistic religions, which explains why a number of draci express curiosity towards some ancient polytheistic human and chotek religious practices. However, draci consider such beliefs as cultural traditions to avoid the stigma associated with self-righteous fundamentalism, especially in the wake of the civil war at the time of first contact.
Leth'aiton (109 Piscium b-alpha)
Mass: 1.79921 × 1025kg
Equatorial Radius: 7653.5 km
Mean Radius: 7646.4 km
Polar Radius: 7632.2 km
Circumference: 48072.6 km (equatorial); 48043.7 km (meridional)
Surface Area: 734,722,000 km2; 271,847,140 km2 (landmass); 462,874,860 km2 (ocean)
Average Planetary Distance: 2.9854 × 106km
Planetary Orbital period: 13.57277716d
Average Planetary Orbital Speed: 16.07261967km/s
Rotation Period: 31h 28m 5s
Solar Orbital Period: 1077.906d
Age: 6.9 Ga
Gravitation (at equator): 20.4874 N/kg (2.09g)
Atmospheric Pressure (sea level): 213.743kPa (2.1095atm)
Leth'aiton is the largest known moon registered in Segmentum Solar, three times the mass of Earth and 1.2 times its size. The moon's orbital path lies within the habitable zone of both the Bah'mun system (109 Piscium) at 2.16 AU and Thim'aat (109 Piscium b), a Class II gas giant, at roughly 3 million kilometres distance, and has the resources to sustain both a habitable biosphere and a sufficiently strong magnetic field to counteract most of the solar radiation collected by Thim'aat's magnetosphere.
Comparable to other worlds naturally capable of harbouring life, water covers 63% of Leth'aiton's surface, currently divided into five oceans by shallow seas and three supercontinents. Immense mountain ranges dwarfing the now-nonexistent Olympus Mons on Mars, as well as strings of volcanic archipelagos indicate that Leth'aiton is a geologically active world, with plate tectonics influenced by Thi'maat's tidal drag and Leth'aiton's own mantle convection. Leth'aiton has supported life on its surface 1.3 billion years longer than Earth's entire existence and will continue to have the capacity to support life past Earth's deadline, the latter of which naturally occurring at least two galactic years (approximately 500 million years) from the present day.
Leth'aiton's formal governorship is currently shared amongst the Sin'he Mal'sten (The Old Wings), the original twenty-one homeworld clans, having been restored to power when Leth'aiton was reclaimed following the Horus Heresy.