The cerafi (Euphausiacea angelus xenos) are a species of floating, krill-like aliens and a somewhat technologically advanced species occupying the space near the Coalition-Conseil border. The cerafi have a conflicted relationship with humans and the gusano, having fought several wars against both species. The catalysts for Coalition occupation of Neu Stuttgart IV, the cerafi have become one of the most important xenos in the galaxy with the beginning of the Galactic War and massive human involvement in their space.
The cerafi evolved on a hydrocarbon-rich gas giant orbiting an aging star. Their ancestors were a species of crustacean-esque predators that eventually learned to cultivate large, balloon-like species that fed on ammonia. The cerafi body structure is centered on a dense, armored shell covering a gas bladder, with a head, “jets,” and six webbed manipulator appendages peeking out from under the shell. Cerafi communicate through pheromones, which they spread to others through “flyovers.” The cerafi have two sexes: a sperm-laying sex and a wombed sex. The sperm-layers, a nomadic species, release floating capsules that are pursued by the wombed sex, which fight over the capsules. This has led to the wombed cerafi forming the core of the cerafi warrior class. After the development of cerafi civilization, the wombed cerafi incentivized keeping the sperm-layers around them by making them the leaders and philosophers. Even though the cerafi homeworld is larger than any terrestrial world, the relative lack of resources has led to smaller population densities.
Cerafi sociology is very different from that of mankind’s. Since there is no stable territory on the ceradi homeworld, the cerafi states derive their identity from various atmospheric bands and levels of descent. Different cerafi “races” have developed from the minor environmental differences, differences which divide the cerafi even after their contact with other sapient species. Cerafi have an extreme fear of falling, to the point that they must be unconscious in order to survive atmospheric reentry with their sanity intact. Almost all cerafi religions depict the core of their world as a horrid place where the evil are punished.
Cerafi technological evolution saw the early advancement of bakelite synthesis, electrical and sonnematerial technology and chemistry, while metallurgy and fire were invented after the cerafi left their homeworld. A species that always looked toward the stars in hope and feared the dark abyss of their homeworld below the clouds, the cerafi focused many of their efforts on space travel, which was ultimately successful in the 2300s. The cerafi possess strange sonnematerial and bakelite technologies that are incomprehensible even to humans. Cerafi weaponry was designed to cripple, as the destruction of an enemy cerafi’s flight capabilities resulted in certain death.
The cerafi, like their human and gusano rivals, remain a divided species. One of the main divides is religious: the pious theocracies of pre-nova cerafi society are fighting against the more aggressive and socialistic nationalists. Another split exists within the theocratic factions: Seraphism, the cerafi religion, has two major sects which diverged early in cerafi history over the issue of priesthood succession. The radical Schismatics face off against the more traditional, conservative Loyalists. Loyalists are more honor-bound and, like the Conseil, refuse to surrender, while the Schismatics are brutal and barbaric toward their opponents.
Although there are major differences between cerafi militaries, they are notable for their greater emphasis on individual honor. The standard method of promotion in cerafi militaries is measured by how many casualties a warrior has inflicted. This has resulted in cerafi conscripts being used as cannon fodder for their commanders to make the kills. The most fanatical cerafi commanders even refuse to provide suppressive fire for their allies, as that would not net them kills. Advanced cerafi sonnematerial technology has let them develop sonnematerial blades which can cut through even the most advanced power armor; advanced energy shielding allows cerafi warriors to survive volleys of enemy fire. Cerafi weaponry is mostly sonnematerial based and their sonnematerial weapons are more compact, stable and having more accurate tracking than the human equivalent. They are also more varied, as they have developed sonnematerial “grenade launchers.” Some cerafi weaponry uses more exotic ammunition, such as radioactive rounds and strange, bakelite crystals that explode upon contact with soft materials.
Interestingly, the cerafi lack any form of heavy armor; the closest they have are self-propelled sonnematerial artillery and howitzers and their vehicles are open-topped or otherwise lack armor that protect their infantry. This is reflective the relatively alien nature of armored warfare; the cerafi have spent centuries in an aerial environment, where armored warfare is impossible. Cerafi terrestrial warfare focuses on small groups of cannon fodder led by shielded commanders. All operations are coordinated around these squads, a marked difference to the larger operational scope of human militaries. The nationalists, having adopted a variant of OrbitSurface Battle, prefer the use of light vehicles and quick, elite infantry with lots of air support, while the religious factions prefer to fanatically defend territory that they desire or launch vicious infantry attacks in conjunction with large artillery barrages or orbital bombardment. Although cerafi weapons precise, powerful and long range, religious commanders prefer hand-to-hand combat, even with human opponents that overpower them if they do not have mechanical aid. Because they are a gas giant species, the cerafi have mastered aerial combat, and close air support and fast attack bombers are a mainstay of their military. While effective during the invasion of Neu Stuttgart IV, they have become less effective with the massive proliferation of EMSEL batteries.
The first cerafi colonies were built on the terrestrial moons of their homeworld, resulting in the early development of terrestrial suits. This development was halted by a distressing discovery: their home star was dying and they needed to leave. The most powerful cerafi states put their differences aside and constructed massive spacecraft (dubbed Arks by the humans) to escape their home system. This project was ultimately successful, even if only the richest and most powerful cerafi and their servants managed to board the luxurious and expensive Arks. These Arks soon went their own separate ways began to search for new worlds to colonize, which is how they encountered mankind.
Although the cerafi invasion of Neu Stuttgart IV resulted in defeat, the humans believed that the entirety of the cerafi species were present on the Ark and were no longer a threat. This notion was destroyed when a series of cerafi Arks occupied the gas giants of the United Colonial State in 2750. The Colonials, surprised that the cerafi managed to cross the galactic core, responded to the occupation of their fuel reserves with war, resulting in a cerafi invasion of the terrestrial Colonial worlds. Seeking to use the cerafi to gain an ally, the Coalition of Western Republics offered to defeat the cerafi if the Colonials joined the Galactic War on their side. The Colonials agreed and the cerafi were beaten back. The cerafi, fearing a crusade, offered to align with the United Technocracies, which agreed to the alliance of convenience.
The cerafi are based on the Covenant from the Halo series.