Strangers in Strange Space

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Theme Music

Preface

Gaist Heidegger's sequel to the game Mission to Mars, which ran previously but encountered turbulence and never saw completion. Set thirty years later, Strangers in Strange Space entails the story of the experimental ship Icarus and her crew, embarking upon what is meant to be a revolutionary expedition to the Alpha Centauri system. An anomaly, however, sends the vessel hurtling into wholly unknown space, where Captain Lambert and his crew are soon faced with alien civilizations in the midst of tremulous conflict.

Where Mission to Mars began in a frame of humanity on the brink of greater technology, Strangers in Strange Space evolves the story into the 'space opera' theme, and is presently ongoing: Main thread.

Warning: Spoilers Below

Background

The year is 2077, and humanity has finally prepared to stretch beyond our solar system. A vessel constructed through the collective efforts and component research of more than thirty years of technological advances has begun the final stages of testing prior to embarking upon a mission beyond the Sol system, forging to realms unknown with a destination in one of the closest neighboring systems--Alpha Centauri. But to know what lay ahead, one must know where the road began; mankind had come far.

A culmination of environmental factors such as global warming and strain upon natural resources coupled with political and economic strife saw nearly a decade of recession spanning the globe from 2009. Vast, drastic collapses among the financial backing in the global market theater, coupled with widespread failures in capital gain and lending industries which were no longer viably sustainable. Rising oil prices, heightening demand on limited supplies of natural resources, the backlash of calamitous growth in unemployment rates. For all that had occurred in so short as span for the world's major powers, third world countries were hit hardest as measures and losses trickled down across the globe.

What resulted was ever growing terrorism, unrest, civil wars and border disputes which necessitated the resurgence of international peacekeeping efforts on a grander scale. Turbulence in negotiations among the United Nations spread through the growing presence of cataclysmic weapons of mass destruction becoming increasingly available to nations which had been shut out from mainstream global politics for so long. The balance of the world was reaching its limits, rapidly approaching the point of no return. In order for stability to be restored, a colossal effort was concluded: formulation had begun to steer towards a global governing alliance with actual powers and cooperation on a large scale made possible by new leadership preparing the world for a new chapter in mankind's history.

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China underwent a dramatic social revolution after being hit severely with the worsening environmental trends, and a too-heavy pyramid of resource distribution nearly drove the national economy into the ground. Under a newly instated socialist government driven by a surge of approval from the younger populace, democratic rights were expanded alongside diving into the international community's affairs, aide missions helped significantly in stabilizing the status quo across most of the globe. Russia soared to new heights of economic and industrial achievement, and with the utilization of previously untapped resources was able to forge itself into a global superpower once more. After countless decades of tense international relations between Russia, the United States, and China, new leadership gathered in sight of global crisis--laying down, together, a united intercontinental economic and military alliance whose policies would form the first steps of influential magnitude towards changing the way resources and development were handled on the global stage.

The true technological revolution began with the successful introduction of Artificial Intelligence through a joint Russian / Japanese research venture partnered with the ever expanding Google Corporation's scientific body. In order to search on the basis of ideas instead of text, a process of symbolic thinking was actually developed in a new programming language. Though the A.I. was as of yet unable to take on dramatic levels of conscious sentience, the advance was still a significant catalyst to a technological boom with the advent of intelligent computing assisting research teams of all disciplines. Vastly different fields of science were finally able to share pertinent information that would have otherwise potentially taken decades to filter through the minds which could understand it, and the elimination of most language barriers for the purposes of peer review helped stabilize an international scientific league for the betterment of mankind.

With the global environment deteriorating and the economy still struggling, there was a growing necessity to cast a serious drive for enhanced technology--particularly in the fields of aerospace and more thoroughly integrated personal computing. The need for alternative power and fuel sources, exponentially greater agricultural accessibility and economic distribution to sate the swelling needs of the world population was monumental. Through the private funding of international corporate powerhouses coupled with a large funding drive on the parts of the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and Japan (as the major players, with numerous secondary contributors and participants), the Global Science Initiative was founded. Conceptually ambitious and unprecedented, GSI was intended to mount the road towards serving as catalyst for a technological singularity.

Formed as an global entity independent of direct control from any particular government participant, substantial backlash rose against the concept of the initiative. Fundamentalist radicals began to form outcry parties against the perils of too far-reaching and over-funded pursuits of technological advancement; this sowed the seeds for what would eventually become the Luddite movement, whose protest focused almost solely on the advancement of artificial intelligence as a crime against creation.

In order to ensure that GSI would be able to secure the necessary means and locations for resource gathering and research, the strengthened United Nations deployed policies and institutions for induction of NATO and other peacekeeping forces into the initiative, forming what would become the GSI Defense Corps. This measure would provide for a security and peacekeeping force, but require that GSI take on much of the mantle of policing and response to growing unrest in troubled 'hot-zones' blossoming globally. Private Military Companies continued to grow in popularity for governments faced with internal strife; the stage was set for conflict between the Defense Corps and sovereign nations during disputes over crucial logistical resources and staging grounds.

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To facilitate its new role in international peacekeeping, a substantial research and development branch of GSI was formed to provide for the rapid advancement of military hardware and ordinance; the core design philosophy was to provide for the means by which the Defense Corps could manage strategic and tactical control of hostile territory through superior armaments, logistics, and protective equipment. Terrorist movements seeking to undermine the GSI Defense Corps program began targeting key locations of the organization. To accommodate for heightened security and countermeasures against these attacks, the GSI Defense Corps pioneered the Guardsmen program, creating what would effectively amount to a special forces combat unit comprised of talent recruited from leading special operations and counter-terrorism units from around the globe.

GSI expanded into a conglomeration partnership program, constituting like-minded efforts and pooled capacities between the organization and its counterparts among corporate structures in countries around the globe. Through this program, companies leading their respective industries could participate more directly in the research and development drives being undertaken by the initiative, pooling talent and resources along with financial backing in exchange for being given seats among the GSI Administrative Board of Directors; through the initiative, this body of management simply came to be known as the Administration. The program was an overwhelming success, seeing the contributions of companies such as Toyota, Google Corporation, Boeing, Microsoft, Apple, along with the privatized NASA, Roland Industries, Bayden & Roebar, and countless other companies.

By 2031, the collaborated 'Magnum Opus' was finally completed--a massive orbital space station building off of the core of the previous international space station, to be used first and foremost as a mid-point bridge to lunar development and research, and finally as a staging platform for intended interplanetary travel throughout our system. In addition, the Genesis Project has been experiencing success as well; genetic biotechnology was seeing tremendous progress through the efforts of GSI. Coupled with advances in agriculture genetics, mankind was undergoing a technologically driven evolution; by this time, however, the Luddite movements and sister coalitions had managed to secure membership in the millions; though a social minority, their objection to the work of the GSI only grew.

With such a conglomerated think tank coupled with A.I. assistance and sufficient funding and resources, the impetus for a dramatic technological boom continued however. Gene therapy became a successful reality, alongside tissue engineering and accelerated treatment techniques to stave off and eliminate most of the long-plaguing diseases on Earth. Initial genetic engineering efforts cleared in 2020 has bore fruit, and by 2035 there were widespread applications of corrective genetics, also known as 'gene-fixing', to counteract hereditary genetic defects and susceptibility to disease. The beginning forays into cybernetics came into being, for usage of limited prosthesis as well as for early advances into more direct conscious interaction with computing systems. As of yet, however, faster than light travel remained a seemingly unreachable peak, and cryogenics never panned out as its early supporters had hoped.

Artificial Intelligence development continued to thunder in parallel to the other efforts of GSI and other industries. Hardware-based growth of intelligent-mapping circuitry and fundamental design philosophies focused on the creation of intelligences which could learn, grow, and adapt in the same fashion human minds might. GSI policy set substantial rules and regulations around the development and further advancement of artificial intelligence technology, with policies solidified unanimously across the governments of major world powers. However, a population had slowly begun to grow in a secular community whom proclaimed that mankind's savior would come in the form of an A.I. consciousness. While a global technocracy seemed to be the direction of governmental flow, the presence and individuality of A.I. sapience was a wildly debated subject.

If man was going to form a colony on another planet, more advances had yet be made. These advances were not without hurdles however--such a formalized force of science began to gather ever more considerable ire and criticism from religious fundamentalists and extremists. These disillusions brought increased strain upon the separation of church & state, and the advent of increasingly frequent terrorist strikes and sabotage efforts led to the bolstering of the security entity of the initiative in the Defense Corps. What had been a protective police force was bolstered into a private army out of necessity for the continued unhindered developments yet needed.

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In 2038, the final testing phases were complete for a dramatically improved system of propulsion for travel in space; utilizing serialized and highly controlled 'nuclear' discharges, fusion with hydrogen packets ignited via laser pressure allowed for larger vessels to be brought to enough of a speed and trajectory to reach as far as Mars in a matter of weeks instead of months. It wasn't faster than light, but it was a considerable improvement; and the reduction of bone density loss and muscular atrophy (further assisted by the continued advances in gene therapy and tissue engineering), along with the development of shielding able to more properly filter and block stellar radiation, meant manned transit efforts were now plausible--and of an uproar appeal for the initiative's corporate backing and the governments of Earth.

With the surface of Mars mapped with greater accuracy than the oceans of the Earth, the terrain and atmosphere yet remained uninhabitable by human beings. In preparation of making ground-fall, a sister station to the orbital platform over Earth was put into construction, along with a series of unmanned construction ships to build the foundation for a permanent colony on the surface through A.I. administering control of robotics. These efforts to ensure a basis for further research and expansion on Mars were awaited with baited breaths, and would still yet take some time. Within a week of their announcement, however, the waiting list for competent and skilled volunteers already numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with millions inquiring after the possibility of being colonists.

In 2043, the Mars orbital station Athena was operational, with the necessary facilities to house an active populace of thirty, able to oversee and manage the development of the colony below and to stage material receipt and surface transit from orbit. The most affluent and experienced of A.I. cores was transferred to the station as part of the administrative efforts, as well as to facilitate data communication relay back to Earth efficiently and to assist with the management of research data below. With the Athena station in place, production of a habitable colony on Mars was put into full swing, and the export of resources and materials was set to its highest from Earth.

By 2044, lunar development on our Moon had allowed for the relocation in full of the initiative's headquarters facility, to allow more direct staging of the Mars colonization efforts and training of potential inhabitants. Also this year, the screening processes had finally narrowed down the pool of candidates to a more acceptable level beyond those previous NASA veterans and members of other aerospace teams stationed on Athena. Social interaction studies and psychological profiles were put underway, and a three-year training program was performed to prep new crew members for the forthcoming colony.

In 2046, the Mars colony Ares I was finally completed, allowing for a sustained population of roughly one hundred individuals. Much of this initial occupancy was soon filled with engineers and other constructive labor forces teamed with A.I. assisted design and expansion. Over the next year, several batches of scientists, servicemen, security personnel and a handful of high-profile private donors were transferred to the colony.

In 2047, Ares I had just recently completed its third expansion stratum, bringing the population capacity to two hundred individuals. With a stable population capable of handling the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep, the stage has been set for serious scientific study to move full swing on the surface. Back on Earth, international tensions had surged once more near a breaking point. Later that year, terrorist cells had managed to infiltrate sleeper agents into the Ares I colony, creating a crisis situation on Mars that nearly brought about the total failure of the colony, were it not for the efforts of the GSIDC Guardsmen, science staff and A.I. present.

Midway through 2048, GSI's strained relations with a number of its largest partner corporations had begun to disintegrate, the final catalyst forming with the declared independence of the Ares I colony on Mars from GSI interests and control. Efforts by GSI to contain and regain control of the situation were failures, thwarted in large part by the logistical superiority of the A.I. core governing the Athena--the first dramatic case in which an A.I. sapience had countermanded doctrinal orders in a decision to support the colonists on Mars. The situation was a PR disaster, leading soon after to the withdraw of several key partners in the GSI organization, declaring pursuit of their specialized research independently, and ultimately leading to the far more competitive atmosphere of technological advancement on Earth and the Lunar colony. This incidence regarding A.I. sapience led to a swell in movements for granting organic rights to the intelligences.

By 2059, while GSI remained at the forefront of the advancement of technological paradigms, its competitors, former compatriots and components of its organization, had branched into drastic advancements of their own research initiatives. GSI was no longer without competitors for more than a decade; with the setbacks following the loss of the Athena station and Mars colony, the door had been opened wide for turbulence in the scientific community. Corporate espionage grew to staggering potency and capability, and what had once been solely terrorist and radical movements in direct confrontation politically and militarily with GSI had now grown to super-corporations. Roland Industries, BR Ventures (the re-organized Bayden & Roebar with a focus on civilian accessibility to space), and Quantex had become the chief competitors and adversaries to the GSI movement.

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Meanwhile, advances in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, cybernetics, agricultural research, medical technologies, along with countless other avenues of growth had blossomed tremendously. Mankind had harnessed the power of fusion reactors; direct neural interfaces to advanced technology was available. Not only could genetics be applied to the unborn, but startling advancements in growth of independently clowned organs, in vitro fertilization, the blossoming field of 'gengineering' unusual characteristics and the application of advance bio-organic measures to accelerate the healing of crippling injuries and other maladies had been colossal.

By 2067, Aerospace technology continued to soar to new heights, the space race having undertaking dramatically new meanings--with burgeoning concerns towards it becoming a theater of war. Corporate warfare on Earth had occurred with some frequency now, and the shift of power from traditional government to the initiatives had only furthered. In spite of growing outcry for the rights of sapient intelligences, A.I. remained firmly in the realm of corporate property, defined as functioning machines--not afforded the privileges of organic beings. Setting their sights upon dominant control of their interests in local space--and beyond our local system--GSI continued its development of ever larger and more capable space-born craft. Diamond-carbon manufacturing had grown so widespread and accessible that it allowed even further, affordable growth in the capacities and complexities of computing technology and protective materials.

In 2077, the Icarus is completed; and this is where our story truly begins.




The Icarus and its development have been a point of controversy both in the public media and behind closed doors; there have been decrying accusations made that deployment of a vessel of its capabilities marks another step towards G.S.I. dominance in the ongoing space arms race. Though international aerospace treaties have continued to develop, in the last decade following attacks on G.S.I. orbital stations and the independent declaration of the Ares colony on Mars, tensions have heightened.

Your operation will encompass crossing systems to Alpha Centauri, where you are intended to experiment and utilize in the-field the many systems of the ship, as well as running combat exercises, and other tests. Essentially, G.S.I. wants to be the first to another system what-so-ever, and then they want to run all of their big tests away from prying eyes. It is 'supposed' to last a little over two years.

If everything goes according to plan.


Of Soaring Too High

G.S.I. is not without competitors; the organization has suffered setbacks following difficulties with Mars and the loss of the Athena station under their direct control. In particular, three former members of the joint venture have managed to grow substantially and remain in the running (there have been others who have attempted to do so, but have been either subsumed in hostile takeovers or have otherwise not been able to keep pace with logistical resources). Roland Industries, BR Ventures (the re-organized Bayden & Roebar with a focus on civilian accessibility to space), and Quantex.

In truth, the Icarus has been designed to function as G.S.I.'s versatile flagship, capable of deep space exploration and research, mining and refinement, and system dominance in a wartime environment, securing the organization's interests on other worlds. The ship has an enormous maximum capacity to accommodate its myriad refit-ready purposes, which can include colonization. However, the ship features a high degree of automation through A.I. and robotics; your voyage will essentially sport a 'skeleton crew'. Still, even with reduced numbers, by way of necessity to keeping the players important and in the loop, they are in higher roles.

The Cast

Captain Douglas K. Lambert

CO played by Mukaikubo

Commander Ellen Stark

XO played by Ambivalent

Dr. Michael Monroe

Chief Medical Officer played by UberJew

Dr. Hailey Searle

Crew Psychologist played by Razeam

This prodigy's birth was all but guaranteed by cash spent on applying the best fixes to her nascent genes. The Searle family wasn't affluent, but they were dedicated to providing their only child with a bright future. Hailey's childhood was spent racing past her peers and being frustrated by others she expected to call equals. It was a winding road that ended when the Australian concentrated on psychology.

Dr. Masahiro Sato

A.I. Psychologist played by Mr. Horyd

Dr. Karen Leroy

Head Research played by Winson_Paine

Karen is now officially the baddest mother fucker on the ship and the Champion of Humanity. She took up pole dancing to make ends meet in college.

Antonio Jones

Chief Engineer played by Eela6

Job Sidis

Ship Steward & Liaison played by DocBubonic
Ship Steward and Liaison

Job, who rarely goes by the name Mr. Sidis or even the title Dr. Sidis, is in charge of the ship's food, sanitation and recreation. As a steward his duties are to see to the crew's physical and mental well being that isn't covered by Dr.s Monroe and Searle. Recently he's become the ship's anthroplogist as well.

Job’s interest in being a part of the crew of the Icarus is due to a bit of wander lust he acquired. He thought being on board the Icarus would be a pleasant getaway. A working, long term vacation of sorts. He also figured if the crew were to happen to stumble upon some alien culture, it would spark his interest in anthropology that he had lost.

He wasn't always fascinated by other cultures. He didn't think much of them until college. At college he wasa slacker. His grades weren’t that great, so he had a limited selection of places he could go. He ended up going to a local University, Grand Valley State University.

His first year at college, ended up being largely wasted. However in the winter semester he took a course in Anthropology. He found that he really enjoyed his anthropology course. As his first year ended, he picked anthropology as his major. After the first year, he took things more seriously. He found he had a talent in languages and learned Russian (along with furthering his knowledge of Spanish). When he graduated college, he had a bachelors of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in Spanish. He was trilingual as well.

The hard work he put into getting his B.A. meant that he had his choice of graduate schools. He went to the University of Chicago to pursue a graduate degree in Anthropology. While earning his masters degree, he realized why he enjoyed anthropology. He had a love of foreign cultures. His M.A. thesis was “Cultural Friction: First Contact between Cultures of Various Technological acheivement.”

When he had to choose where to conduct his field research he chose the Yanamamo. Although the culture seemed to be studied to death by Chagnon, his disciples and those who disagreed with him. Job still chose to study their culture. Actually it wasn’t so much their culture as it was how the Yanamamo culture had dealt with outsiders. The conclusion? The Yanamamo had most of their culture destroyed and there was only traces of original Yanamamo culture left to study.

However Job was able to finish his doctorate and successfully defended his thesis. Not long after finishing up his doctoral studies, his mentor asked him if he wanted to join him on a very sensitive mission. He and his group were called upon to open relations with the North Sentinel Islanders. Due to environmental concerns, contact had to be made with the North Sentinel Islanders. Job’s professor knew of his work studying cultural interactions. Job joined the team.

It took them six months to make peaceful contact. After that they were able to work on helping the tribe move to a safer location. The islands Sentinelese lived on suffered from pollution and rising water levels. The group negotiated a deal to move the Sentinelese to a safer location.

The group, although they didn’t intend to, became celebrities. The media latched onto the story. The group were lauded as heroes. For a month, the group were seen everywhere. Most of the group took this attention in stride, but Job hated it. After a week, of media attention, he quietly disappeared. The media mentioned it briefly. A little later, the media latched onto other news stories and the groups efforts became nothing more then a footnote in history books.

Unknown to most of the world, Job went to Africa. He spent a couple years working with U.N. groups and Peace Corps, but not officially. He hated having to deal with bureaucracy and red tape, so he didn’t. Since most of the administration worked over seas, they had little control over the day to day operations. Job also had no compunctions against breaking various local laws either. He came to help the people there and he didn’t let local laws get in the way of his humanitarian work. It helped that he wasn’t beholden to any NGO’s or governments. He was his own man and was free to act.

After a couple of years doing humanitarian work in Africa, he earned himself a bit of celebrity. Job’s work in Africa happened to impress several very important world leaders and journalists. Upset at the thought of more media attention, he left in the middle of the night before anything happened.

Job traveled to the western coast of Africa and made his way to the Middle East. He spent a couple years doing odd jobs and occasionally working as a translator. A ship he worked on traveled to India.

When he got to India, he spent some time with friends he made during the Sentinelese project. They were faculty at a University and thought that Job should consider taking a part time teaching position. He took them up on their offer and taught at the university. He spent three years teaching and living in India.

Like so many other times in his life, he felt his life needed a changed. At this point in his life, he had spent most of sixteen years in foreign countries. He wanted to return to the U.S. and did so with little hesitation. He could have found a university job, but instead he chose the quiet life of being a low level employee of GSI.

A few years working for GSI, he happened to find out about the Icarus project. He quickly saw the possibilities of the mission. The Icarus could theoretically make first contact with extraterrestrial cultures. He decided that this was what he wanted to do with his life.

However there were complications. Job refused to discuss his past with the people involved with the project. They knew a little bit about his past and did a background search of him. They approved of his credentials, but they disliked his career choices. They turned his application down.

The situation forced Job to resort to desperate measures. He called in favors from people he knew. A U.N. official who worked in Africa, the Indian Minister of Tribal Affairs, and others including a higher up in G.S.I. itself. They managed to pull enough strings to get him a position aboard the craft, however, his position was that of Ship’s Steward.

He took the position, but did his best to hide his academic credentials. As far as most people knew, he was just some anonymous G.S.I. employee brought on board to take care of the Steward’s duties. His position had nothing to do with Anthropology or research, so he decided he’d make a point of hiding his academic records.

After the anomaly, Job's background came to light. As the first contact with an Alien culture became a reality, he came forward about his training in anthropology.

Sarah Rowley

Engineer & Fabrications Specialist played by Bass Concert Hall

Ken Stiles

Chief Engineer, replacement for Antonio Jones played by Gus Hobbleton

Amelia Black

Pilot played by NoControl

NPCs

See the main article, NPCs in Strangers in Strange Space.

The Icarus

Technical Specifications

Length: 1489 feet (454 meters) Displacement (Fully Loaded): Approximately 138,000 metric tons dST/HP: 300 Hnd/SR: -2/5 Crew capacity: Roughly 500 personnel. Crew currently: Roughly 170 personnel.

Front Hull [1] – Diamondoid Armor (dDR 150) [2] – 'Apollo' Multipurpose Array (Array level 13) [3!] - 'Hades' Weapons (Medium Battery, 3 Grav-gun turrets) [4] – Cargo Hold (5,000 ton capacity) [5] – Habitats (Civilian, Science, Laboratories, Medical Facilities) [6] – Hydroponics

Center Hull [1] – Diamondoid Armor (dDR 150) [2!] - Weapons (Tertiary Battery, 20 Electromag gun turrets, 10 Missile launcher turrets) [3] – Cargo Hold (5,000 ton capacity) [4] – Hangar Bay (3,000 ton capacity, Launch rate 500 tons/min) [5] – Hangar Bay (3,000 ton capacity, Launch rate 500 tons/min) [6] – Habitats (Command, Administration, Defense Corps, Manufacturing) [Core] – 'Olympus' Control Room (20 control stations C10)

Rear Hull [1] – Diamondoid Armor (dDR 150) [2] – 'Atlas' Robot Arm [3!] - Mining & Refinery (500 tons/hr processing, fitted to fuel matter into Factory) [4!] – Factory (Functions as Nanofactory, $5m/hr production) [5!] – 'Hermes' Hot Reactionless Engine (2g acceleration) for intra-system travel [6!] – 'Aether' Stardrive Engine (FTL-1, highly experimental; requires dedicated power & charge time to commence FTL travel) [Core] – 'Hephaestus' Super Fusion Reactor (4x power provided, 400 year endurance)

Design Features: Artificial Gravity (variable 0 to 3G, adjustable in specific areas), High Automation (reduces necessary workforce factor of 10)

Some of the contents for the Habitats: Front Hull Habitats- Large Lab x3 Sickbay Clinic (30 beds, +3 equipment bonus to medical skills) Gym x2 (40 person capacity) Briefing Room x3 (Conference rooms available for general use by request) Bunkrooms (General Staff, 200 person capacity) Cabins (Lab & Technical personnel, 100 – 200 person capacity) Security Office (Small office with 3 holding cells) Robotic Minifactory x2 (Large consolidated production areas) “Elysium” (Bar, Ancient Greece theme, 40 person capacity) Hibernation Chambers (400 person capacity) Barber & Salon (40 person capacity) Ops Center (Computer Programming, 10 – 20 person capacity) Cinema (100 person seating capacity) A.I. Center (Large Lab, equipped for A.I. Maintenance)

Center Hull Habitats- Sickbay (5 beds, +2 equipment bonus to medical skills) Gym x2 (40 person capacity) Briefing Room x2 (Command, Administration) Bunkrooms (Defense Corps Garrison, 100 person capacity) Armory (Defense Corps Steerage Cargo, secured, munitions storage) Ready Room (Defense Corps Briefing Room, 100 person capacity) Luxury Cabins (Superior, for CO, XO, Administrator) Luxury Cabins (Command, Administration, 25 – 50 person capacity) Brig (Holding cells, 14 person capacity) Ops Centers x5 (Administration, Computer Operation, Intelligence Analysis, Strategy, 50 – 100 person capacity) Officers Club (Bar, 20 person capacity) Bar (Defense Corps primarily, 60 person capacity) [/pre]

Hangars include two main landing craft and numerous smaller craft, functioning primarily as shuttles, but capable of refitting for combat, research, and other purposes. Full array of EVA equipment for the replacement of hull paneling and other critical external repairs.

Factory and micro-factories include microwave printing facilities for the production of replacement diamondoid plating for the ship's armor, ammunition for its weaponry, and other necessary components for maintaining a long-term voyage. The Super Fusion reactor and main drive are the respective pinnacles of G.S.I. research for space vessels--and the sorts of things their competitors would very much like to get their hands on. The FTL drive has numerous limitations still, however; it requires a significant dedication of the reactor for a sustained period to charge initial acceleration, after which it can steadily be increased--but necessitates a reduction of speed and calculations in order to arrive safely at a cross-system destination. Generally speaking, it's difficult to just suddenly zip around a system with it.

Aliens

Here is a handy reference for all the races we've met so far, curent as of Jan 2010: [[1]]

Xixiki Xexui Hexeii

Physiology:

Kemajaa claims that she believes the Xixiki Xexui Hexeii are multiple species, or at least that their society is formed from many species. So far, however, only Xivhishi's species have been encountered, and so for the moment they are referred to here simply as 'Xixiki'.

The Xixiki have a generally reptillian appearance, with hide instead of scales, large yellow eyes with slitted pupils, snouts protruding about four to five inches from an otherwise humanoid skull, and smooth taloned digits. They come in a dizzying array of colors. They have huge jaws that extend back past their eyes, and are earless but appear to detect vibration with their nostrils.

Xixiki are more compact and have a denser musculature than humans, with a sturdy structure, clawed digitigrade footing, and a vestigial tail, and appear to be evolved for a higher native gravity. They have a higher core body temperature than humans. They also have a high degree of flexibility and manual dexterity. They do not have hair, and they are particularly fascinated by human 'plumage'.

During first contact, at the subsequent meeting aboard Icarus, and at the dinner party that followed, the Xixiki displayed an exceptional sensitivity to sound (reacting quite sharply to Liedolf's snapping of a finger), as well as an appreciation for the nuances of human voice.

Xixiki biochemistry is humanoid in at least one important respect: namely, appreciation and intoxication in response to ethanol.

The Xixiki homeworld is not near the system in which they were first encountered. Their homeworld is called Cliaxik, and is the home (meeting place?) of many clans, including Xivhishi's. It is a world with abundant oceans, large and warm, with significant plant life and large prey animals.

Ships:

Xixiki vessels are organic. The Xixiki have created a 'Ship Home' (some sort of planetary body of water) that produces their living vessels, which are born there and then undergo directed growth. They have distinct forms and a complex life cycle - as Xivhishi puts it, "Plant Become Animals. Animals Become Ship. We Create Sculpt Animals. Machines." Vessels are born and raised in waters, then grown and altered to be able to serve as arial craft, then further modified and grown to be spaceworthy. Xixiki engine technology - or at least their capacity for intrasystem acceleration - is superior to GSI's.

The originally encountered lead Xixiki vessel appeared as a smoothly contoured tapered conical wedge of gleaming black and flucuating texture, about two hundred feet long, with protruding forward-facing extensions and several intricate shapes "carved" onto its surface; its escorts were both smaller and less ornate in structure.

The lead ship contained within it a smaller black ovoid vessel nonetheless large enough to dock an Artemis-class shuttle; this vessel was the site of Captain Lambert and Dr. Leroy's first contact with the Xixiki. The interior of the first contact vessel is formed from organic curves, and entirely coated or formed from some kind of exotic plasticine material that can rapidly change viscosity, transparency and color, as well as display images.

Karen later interfaced with the vessel via the touch of exposed skin to it's unusual interior coating, and was allowed some access to the vessel's sensor data (its visceral sensation?) as well as limited control over its communication system. This is apparently the main method of controlling xixiki vessels, and crewmembers aare completely subsumed into the ship structure, encased in 'wombs' from which they control the ship. The experience is by all accounts very similar to a neural jack, but without the invasiveness of the latter. During her foray, Karen was able to determine that that vessel was approximately four years old; whether these ships continue to grow, enlarge, or otherwise mature as they age is not known.

Xixiki vessels may or may not be sentient, but they seem to have at least an animal consciousness, and some degree of wordless, grammarless language, like whale-song, with which they communicate. They may have an emotional capacity; Xivhishi commented at the end of Karen's communion with the first contact vessel that the ship would see her again.

Other Technology:

Xixiki hard-suits are curved and sinewy, and appear more flexible than their bulk would suggest. Some sort of futuristic zipper lets them be worn in one piece, whole cloth separating and reforming at will. The suits are also much larger than their wearers - Xixiki, at less than five feet, towered over Lambert and Leroy in his suit during their first contact. Both the hardsuits and the Xixiki vessels seem to have constantly changing inscriptions and designs, which appear to identify their users with terms such as 'leader' and 'sculptor'.

Dr. Monroe's initial investigations of Xixiki tissue revealed their incredible control over microbiology; not only did samples from Xivhishi show few to no bacterial components, those that were found appeared to be engineered to defend the tissue against other invading microbes. Perhaps further cultivation and study of these microorganisms would allow the Icarus crew to explore the worlds of strange space more safely.

The Xixiki seem to have an aversion to machines in general, and machine ships in particular. Xivishi indicated that they were originally wary of the humans because they were concerned that the mechanical Icarus might belong to their enemies, the Xiaheihei. He also repeatedly indicates that humans have taken an incorrect, wrongheaded, or reprehensible path for using machines that they cannot 'feel' or 'express'. In turn, Xixiki bioengineering appears to be extremely advanced, including the ability to significantly modify individuals of other species and transfer consciousnesses into alien bodies. Apparently at some point in their cultural development the Xixiki determined it best to make as much of their technology entirely organic as possible, and have been refining organic tech for a long time since.

It should be noted that Xixiki prefer to limit their bioengineering to cosmetic or artful changes, and feel drastic alterations are improper.

Language: The name of the Xixiki language is not known. Xixiki speech was first described as "low-pitched guttural clicking and breathy sounds with a rich bass."

Official term of address: [Clan name] [Individual name] Ex: Icarus Lambert Unofficial term of address: [Individual name] [Clan Name] Ex: Lambert Icarus Friendly: [Individual name] Ex: Lambert

If your Xixiki friend treats addresses someone respectfully, it behooves you to use the same mode of address. When in doubt, use the more respectful term of address.

Xixiki refer to the Icarus crew as "Icarus Humans Clan Animals."

Customs and Culture:

At alternate points Xivhishi confirms that the Xixiki have art, music, theater, and war, and that some Xixiki have religion.

Xivhishi indicated surprise that Dr. Leroy was Icarus's authority on 'growing things,' but not the leader of the ship, and was equally surprised that Lambert had had a hand in designing the Icarus but was not intimately connected to the ship; in Contrast, Xivhishi indicates that he grew his vessel and has some sort of particular bond or connection to it (here he uses the words 'touch' and 'express' liberally). This might indicate that bioengineers, "growers," or whatever the Xixiki equivalents are, are a well-respected class of society.

In general, Xivhishi appeared to react well to Karen's unorthodox and tactile mode of interaction - as he says, "Humans Express Communications Curious. Humans Sounds Soothing. We Express Touch Shape Create Bonds. Humans Animals Karen Communicates More In Touch. I Feel. I Understand Karen More Know More." Texture is apparently an important part of Xixiki art and indeed xixiki experience in general.

Xixiki have pets, but they do not keep prey as pets - the line between food and companion is distinct. Xixiki cuisine is extrememly varied, including prey live and dead, cooked and uncooked, as well as plants and other sources of nutrients. They have a peculiar drink which substatially alters human neurochemistry and provoke euphoria, not unlike narcotics.

Basic Xixiki Dining Etiquette (as related by Xivhishi): Do not hiss at the Xixiki Do not strike the Xixiki Do not request the presence of other Clans Above all else, do not draw your weapons at the dinnertable. You will be killed.

That the Xixiki appear to rely on physical presence to decipher language, and communicate more easily with humans in person.

Internal Politics:

Xixiki society consists of many unified clans, though this may merely mean 'factions.' Clans are often families and control larger vessels; Xivhishi was surprised to find that the Icarus 'clan' was not a family, and curious as to how humanity avoided intraspecies war. The leader clans are known as Xivhahai xupuhi (Unclear: is this a person? A council?). Many Clans may be families, but this doesn't appear to be a hard and fast rule: a clan may have multiple families, and a family may be spread across many clans.

A large, possibly major base (or Home Spire) the Icarus has encountered is Xiaj Sentinel, found in the original system Icarus entered. This may be a seat of political power, or just a military base near the Xixiki border. The dinner party occurred here, and representatives from at least four Clans were in attendance: (Clan name precedes individual name)

Xii Chroxi - gold attire, speaking with a Ellen/Karen voice Juxi Mikishii - electric blue attire, speaking with Karen's voice Maka Kaxuro - white attire, speaking with Lambert's voice Xivu Shixu - purple attire, speaking with Job's voice

Interspecies Relations:

The Xixiki, by Xivhishi's account, have both declared wars and had wars declared against them. They are not necessarily quick to war, however; Xivhishi told Lambert and Leroy that they quickly comprehended that the Icarus and her crew were not an invasion force, but merely lost, and decided to take up a cordial relationship with them. During the dinner at Xiaj Sentinel, the Xixiki Kaxuro appeared to momentarily threaten the Icarus clear, considering the humanity's capacity for "Artful War" dangerous, but fortunately by that point the Icarus crew had gained the goodwill of Xivhishi, who declared them friends of the Xii Clan and guests in Xixiki space. Upon further discussion, this tension appear to be related to anxiety about human "sharp machines" and their similarity to those of the Xiaheihei.

The Xixiki may be engaged in war with the Xiaheihei, but either they have continued to attempt diplomatic relations, or they are engage in some degree of trade through one or more third parties. This is evidenced by Xivhishi's statement, "I Did Not Like Xiaheihei Food," which necessitates some sort of recent cultural contact unless xivhishi is incredibly old.

Chroxi's statements to Dr. Sato ('Respectful Protest Others Icarus Clan Humans Swim Now. Icarus Clan Humans Friends Will Trade Slowly. Respectful Others Clans. We Give Icarus Clan Exploring. Now We Are Friends. Safety Respectful Understanding.') during the dinner might indicate that the Xixiki would prefer humans limit their rate of technological exchange, either with other Xixiki clans or perhaps with other races. However, he seems to agree that the Icarus can rely on safe passage in Xixiki space.

Xiaheihei

Little is known about this species, which has not yet been encountered. Our source of information on the Xiaheihei comes from interactions with the Xixiki, particularly the diplomat Xivhishi, and with the Kobuquru merchant-captain Kemajaa.

The Xixiki hold the the Xiaheihei in exceptional distaste; during their first contact with Humanity they were delighted that the mechanical Icarus was not a Xiaheihei ship, and later praised the openness of the Icarus crew, saying that the Xiaheihei "do not share." The Xixiki detest the Xiaheihei particularly for their "sharp machines," and indicate that they remain engaged in a longstanding conflict with the Xiaheihei. Early suppositions were that the Xixiki had a philosophical difference with the Xiaheihei, as the the former appear biologically rather than mechanically inclined, but Kemajaa's description of the Xixiki-Xiaheihei conflict suggests that their war may be more overtly political.

Captain Kemajaa of the Kobuquru identifies the Xiaheihei as scholars, though this definition should be approached with caution, as Scholar, Merchant, and Warrior seem to be important terms in Kobuquru society and may have broader implications than their translations suggest. Otherwise, she admits that they are difficult to define, but says that they are 'precise' and that they dislike politics. She claims that they are few in number, that they are nominally part of the Anweshul-Daal-Gozu multispecies coalition, though the Xiaheihei rarely meet with their partners or participate in coalition business (Kemajaa's wording is uncertain; this last bit is supposition on my part). Her explanation of the Xixiki-Xiaheihei conflict is that the Xixiki attempted to conquer, annex, or otherwise incorporate the Xiaheihei into their clan system, and that the Xiaheihei's response was to find a solution to the Xixiki problem - namely, developing very effective technology to kill the Xixiki. According to Kemajaa, the Xiaheihei 'creed' (another potentially loaded word in the Kobuquru language) is to 'find solutions to problems'; while they are respectful, she says, her advice is to not become a problem to the Xiaheihei. This seems prudent.

The Xiaheihei were first seen in person on Yanj'aj, but only as a single hooded figure the gozu Maasu identified as Xiaheihei. The person in question was rather completely shrouded in a heavy burgundy fabric, so all the crew was able to appreciate was its size - a larger form than our own. Maasu said that it was strange to see a Xiaheihei alone; most Xiaheihei, he says, keep company with themselves. I suspect this means Xiaheihei prefer to travel along with other Xiaheihei, but Maasu's statement and the context are broad enough that it may simply mean Xiaheihei prefer to travel in the company of others more generally.

Na'Sha'Lik

A species which has been so far encountered solely as bodyguards to the representatives of other species. Xivhishi had one on hand when meeting Lambert and Leroy on his ship, and Captain Kemajaa brought one with her to the Icarus during her first encounter with humanity. They are gaunt creatures, about a foot taller than Xixiki, with three-digit hands.

Xivhishi mentioned them only once, when indicating the species of his guard. Kemajaa gave her bodyguard's name - Jii'Fix - and said that while not all Na'Sha'Lik are guardians, they make the best ones ('good protection,' she says of Jii'Fix in particular), have a good reputation as bodyguards, and are used by many species. Part of Na'Sha'Lik security protocol is not eating with their charges, perhaps as a protection against food poisoning. Kemajaa names them as one of her 'species that matter'.

Appearance:

Na’Sha’Lik do not appear to have as direct a physical analogue to earth life as the other species thus far encountered; they possess attributes both feline and reptilian, but neither seems an adequate description. For the moment our prototypic Na’Sha’Lik is Jii’Fix, as she is the only one we have seen out of full dress and helmet. Jii’Fix has smooth tawny-brown flesh with a lighter cream tone under the chin and down the throat; dusky splotched spots dot above Jii'Fix's eyes around the base of those horns, down over the back of her skull, and down the back of her neck; they are also present on her forearms and may appear elsewhere. Her eyes are dark amber, with slanted lids, and her face that extends slightly out into a short snout. A pair of dark horns jut out and back from above her brow, extending four inches from a thick base and curving slightly outward before tapering to sharp points. Jii’Fix's ears are long and triangular. She appears to be hairless.

Culture and Society:

We still know little about Na’Sha’Lik society. They excel in the arts of personal combat and are renowned for producing highly trained and effective bodyguards and other fighters; according to Jii’Fix, however, the Na’Sha’Lik are less remarkable when fighting in space. Highborn or high ranking Na’Sha’Lik do not become fighters; this profession is left to those of a lower social strata. Of their social order, government and politics we know nothing.

Na’Sha’Lik enjoy having their ears scratched; apparently there’s something about the texture of human hands or fingernails they find quite soothing. According to a gozu jeweler on Yanj'aj, Na'Sha'Lik fashion prefers jewelery and clothing that are snug rather than loose-fitting.

The main Na'Sha'Lik language is Sha'Ku'Ja, and it is known to be an exceptionally difficult tongue.

Kobuquru

Kemajaa.jpg

The Koboquru were the second species the Icarus encountered, first met in the Jixii system. Rather than an official diplomat or representative of the species, the Icarus crew made contact with Captain Kemajaa, a successful independent merchant captain with a particular interest in alien species and cultures. What the crew of the Icarus know about the Kobuquru, and in fact about most other species besides the Xixiki, currently comes from first contact discussions with Captain Kemajaa.

Physiology:

The Kobuquru, to put it most simply, are large land dolphins. They are powerfully built, stand in excess of six feet, and have two arms, two legs, and long tails. Koboquru are almost certainly stronger than humans. They - or at least Kemajaa, our prototypic Kobuquru - have slick gray skin with an almost glossy sheen, blue-gray palms, and violet eyes. They find human temperature, pressure, and gravity acceptable, but prefer a high ambient humidity, and even have a fluid secreting system built into their vacuum suits to keep their skin moist. They speak in a falsetto punctuated by squeaks, which appear to be used as non-verbal emotional expressions.

According to Kemajaa and in reference to captain Lambert, "Humans are much softer than Kobuquru men."

Technology:

So far what we know about Kobuquru starships is largely based on the merchant captain Kemajaa's two vessels, which mass 180 and 126 tons respectively. Both vessels have dense exteriors and are sturdily built; more importantly, they exhibit a reconfigurable design, hulls dotted with modular nodes, apparently primarily for weapons emplacements, that may be swapped out and replaced. Thus, the ships appear broadly adaptable.

The larger vessel is a broad angle with four sweeping extensions curving off to cup a large rear thruster surrounded by smaller directional thrusters. There are at least four modular turreted weapons arranged with those sweeps. Emblazoned along the largest sweep of the ship's structure is an alien inscription, while on a large flat expanse center and top near the front of the vessel is an insignia: a purple crescent etched over top of a cobalt wave, set within an ornate wreathing circle of platinum. The smaller craft sports a similar insignia, but does not have the ring; it appears to be outfitted primarily with sensor equipment. In both cases, their engines appear to be similar to those of the Xixiki, in performance and in propulsion mechanism.

Beside the Kemajaa's Shyreetayne, Kemajaa has also made mention of three other classes of (presumably Koboquru) vessels. A Kyza is a slim, slender, narrow-profiled combat ship with great speed and agility. A Hajhek is also fighting ship, this one with clustered engines and a more angular, combat-oriented design; it is apparently a popular choice. A Shyuqaya is a larger vessel with a sleek design; Kemajaa indicated that she served extensively on a Shyuqaya in the past, though that may mean either that it is one of the vessels used in the war with the Daal Delujek and Dormacu, or that it is simply some manner of Koboquru freighter.

Kobuquru may possess some degree of genetic engineering, possibly borrowed from the Xixki, who's skill in such things Kemajaa claims to be unequaled. However in context her statements to this effect may also refer merely to body modification; i.e. tattooing.

Customs and Culture:

Kobuquru appear to have a caste-like culture, with three main divisions: warrior, merchant, and scholar. These are referred to by Kemajaa as 'bloods,' and seem to carry a degree of responsibility or karma. In the example Kemajaa gave, she, who has merchant blood, acted dishonorably by serving as a warrior and incurred a debt against her blood, which apparently was later repaid by returning to (and perhaps succeeding in?) her intended lot in life as a merchant. However, while Kemajaa claims merchant blood, she also expresses a desire to be a scholar, though it appears that learning about new species and cultures may be merely a personal interest or hobby on her part.

There are also repeated references to 'creed,' which seems to translate something like philosophy, vocation, or calling. Kemajaa repeatedly indicates that she finds another group's creed to be agreeable or disagreeable, including mention of a youthful dissatisfaction for her own blood's creed. It is unclear whether this has particular relevance to the Kobuquru or is merely one of Kemajaa's personal expressions.

Koboquru family structure appears to be larger and more open than human family structure (following the evolutionary analog, perhaps the Koboquru family unit is something like the pod?). Kemajaa indicated she had not only the parents she was born with but other parents who raised and educated her. Koboquru are encouraged to meet strangers and discover the best qualities to emulate in them, and they may take several mates over a lifetime. When a Koboquru has a mate the pair share names, but otherwise a Koboquru simply has his or her personal name and a family name only used in formal situations.

One known Koboquru ritual is the “gathering of blood,” a celebration (??? We are not told what circumstances merit a gathering of blood) in which many Koboquru congregate to feast and exchange gifts. Given the name it seems likely that this event is analogous to a family/clan reunion, though the exchange of gifts may suggest that it serves as an opportunity to build or strengthen blood ties, to display social status, or perhaps even a chance to reorder relative social statuses within the blood unit.

Koboquru artistic expression, Kemajaa claims, is often very physical. Koboquru architecture appears to favor smooth curves and soft hues, and Kemajaa’s vessel at least feature some sort of combination communal shower and sauna.

The Koboquru language in most common use we don't know yet, but the language Maasu suggested Captain learned to woo Kemajaa was Kyuuqisi; it is the Koboquru language of love, apparently something like French.

When meeting in person, Kobuquru shake hands, but touch the top of their heads first. Also, they really, really like tuna. No joke.

Political Status:

The Kobuquru are, by Captain Kemajaa's account, mostly independent. They have at least once rebuffed efforts to bring them into a multispecies coalition by the Anweshul, apparently under threat or actual imposition of a trade embargo. They consist of at least two political factions, the Keboqaru and the Keququ; there may also be a third political faction confusingly also known as Kobuquru, or the two factions may simply be subgroups of the Kobuquru; this is unclear. Koboquru is also a cultural designation; whether Keboqaru and Keququ are also cultural entities is also unknown.

The Keboqaru are currently in political power over the Keququ and are responsible for a large part of Keboquru policy; however, when Kemajaa was a soldier the Keququ were the dominant faction. During this time the Kobuquru were supporting the Daal Dinali, their trading partners, and the Gozu, their research partners, against a rogue faction of the Daal called the Delujek, and a separatist faction called the Daal Dormacu.

Finally, Kemajaa indicates a similarity between Captain Lambert's description of the GSI and an organization known as the Keboqaru Crux. This organization is apparently composed of the best of the merchants, warriors, and scholars, and is devoted to the discovery of new systems and resources.

Gozu

Another of Kemajaa's 'species that matter,' the Gozu have never been encountered by the Icarus crew and our knowledge about them comes entirely from the description of Captain Kemajaa. According to her, the Gozu are members of an interspecies coalition with the Daal and Anweshul. They are, or were, 'scholar partners' with the Keququ, a faction of the Kobuquru. In Kemajaa's soldiering days, this relationship was threatened by blockage, piracy, or some other disruption of trade/travel by a rogue faction of the Daal, the Daal Delujek. Kemajaa makes reference to 'Gozu Giij Gema,' which may be a world or a leadership organization controlling a Gozu world; in any case, at the time this Gozu group had little in the way of military power, and so they paid the Keququ to bring in the support of Kobuquru warriors. This was part of the conflict that Kemajaa participated in.

The Gozu were never mentioned, or at least never named, by Xivhishi and the Xixiki.

The Gozu language is Gozuja.

Daal

The Icarus crew first encountered the Daal on Yanj'aj station, where they have a large presence. Previously we learned about Daal history and political relations from Captain Kemajaa. They were not mentioned by the Xixiki.

Physiology

The Daal appear to be of similar stature to humans. they are more broadly built, with raised heels and thicker limbs than a human; their faces sport a short snout and large jaws, and the back of their heads show multiple prominent hard ridges that continue down their spines. They lack external covering besides their leathery skin, apparently devoid of either hair or feathers.

Technology

The Daal seem to share technology freely with the Gozu, Koboquru, and other species to a significant degree, including weapons technology. While we have not seen any Daal vessels in action, Icarus did observe a half-dozen similarly colored ships moored at the Daal-only section of Yanj'aj, which, according to the sensor tech on duty, "have got to be packing some firepower."

Customs and Culture

Daal seem to value having privacy or space from other species. On Yanj'aj they have a private section of the station with their own areas and services, which while well dewmarcated is nonetheless not accessible to other species. Potentially this could be because the station is largely under Dall control and thus the Daal have sensitive or official government business to conduct there, but the Gozu, who are also significant owners of the station, do not appear to have any equivalent territory.

According to Cesi, Daal value and show empathy to other species to a notably lesser degree than they do for their fellow Daal. While careful to admit that not all Daal are alike, she claims that this has been a point of consternation between the Daal and other species in the past.

The Daal language, purchased at Yanj'aj and recommended by Maasu, is Dilaa'aj.

Political Status

The Daal are coalition members with the Gozu and Anweshul. They have at least three major political factions: the Dinali, the Delujek, and the Dormacu.

The Daal Dinali Kemajaa describes as merchants, indicating they have or had a mercantile relationship with the Kobuquru Keququ. This is the most politically powerful faction and has control over the largest portion of Daal holdings/worlds.

The Daal Delujek she describes as raiders or rogues (she says they are "open who steal," possibly meaning they are openly criminal, or pirates). Daal Delujek attacks on the Gozu incurred the wrath of the Kobuquru, who warred with them.

The third faction of the Daal, the Daal Dormacu, Kemajaa terms scholars with an agreeable creed, but says they are separatists opposing the Dinali. When the Delujek's attacks on the Gozu provoked Kobuquru retaliation, Kemajaa says that as a result of the Keququ-Dinali merchant alliance the Kobuquru were forced into fighting the Dormacu (because they were supporting the Delujek? This is unclear to me). Whether the Delujew and the Dormacu are firm allies or simply have a common enemy in the Dinali is not known.

According to Kemajaa, the Daal have made at least one bid for interstellar peace and multispecies government, but were only somewhat successful, having secured a few alliances with a few factions of a few species.

Anweshul

Of all the named species we know perhaps the least about the Anweshul, whose information again comes entirely from Kemajaa. This species is politically powerful, with territory spanning several systems. They are a member species in the Anweshul-Gozu-Daal coalition. According to Kemajaa the Anweshul are led by a collection of rulers and warriors, and they take a particular pleasure in leadership roles. The Anweshul leadership council once attempted to strongarm the Koboquru into their coalition with a trade embargo, but failed - Kemajaa attributes their failure to their inability to comprehend Koboquru merchant creeds.

The Anweshul are difficult to meet for the first time, Kemajaa claims, and she has offered the Icarus crew her assistance in making first contact with them.

According to Kemajaa, “Anweshul in my experience are better at politics and war than love.” According to Maasu, "Anweshul prefer Anweshul currency, would find it pleasing if all used the same currency."

The Anweshul language is Hyjyuk.

Kija

The Kija are a minor race affiliated with the Xiaheihei; they possess a single world far from Yanj'aj. The Icarus crew has only met one Kija, Jaus'Ka, and given their history and reluctance to leave their world, it seems likely that she may be the only Kija we ever encounter. According to Jaus'Ka, many species are still unaware of the Kija's existence or know very little about them. Jaus'Ka says the Kija homeworld is a hot and verdant planet, characterized by broken mountainous terrain and harsh conditions. It is a mineral-rich world, and the Kija are proficient and prolific miners; this wealth of resources led the Kija into a war with the spacefaring race that first discovered them, a one-sided war that almost exterminated the Kija people before the Xiaheihei intervened.

Physiology

Kija are narrowly built bipeds, bent knees and long tails. Longer eared and short snouted, Kija facial features not unlike the Na'Sha'Lik, absent the latter's horns. They have skin that's dusky white with peppered speckling in various patterns, which Jaus'ka says reveal to other Kija their ethnic or family background. Like the Na'Sha'Lik, Kija expression is found less in the eyes and more in the ears; however, their movements and motions are more understated than the Na'Sha'Liks, and more difficult for human eyes to read.

History

Until recently they Kija were very a populous pre-spaceflight society; they had some degree of technological advancement and a military tradition from their own internal wars, but they were unaware of the presence of other species in the galaxy. They were first discovered by an unknown race Jaus'Ka names only as 'the Enemy'. This species greatly desired the Kija world's mineral wealth and decided to take it by force: the Enemy attacked the Kija homeworld, meaning to enslave Jaus'Ka's people. Faced with a huge technological disadvantage and outgunned by exotic alien weapons, the Kija nevertheless fought back fiercely and refused surrender; they avoided defeat, but at the cost of massive planetwide casualties.

The change in the tide of battle came with the capture and analysis of Enemy technology, the crowing achievement of which was the siezure of an Enemy starship. Knowing that they had little chance of survival fighting their would-be oppressors alone, Jaus'Ka's people assembled a crew to take the captured Enemy ship away from their world and search for other species who might aid the Kija in the defense of their home. Eventually, this expedition encountered a second species, the Xiaheihei. The Kija told the Xiheihei the story of their Enemy and the war, and found the latter sympathetic: the Xiaheihei offered their aid by providing the Kija with advanced Xiaheihei technology, presumbly including military and weapons systems. With the technological gap closed the Kija were able to drive the Enemy off their world and away from their space. To Jaus'Ka's knowledge, at least, no one knows who the Enemy was, nor have they been seen since.

Few Kija survived the war; most of their species' population having been killed in the fighting. Perhaps for this reason most Kija have been reluctant to leave their homeworld and travel, preferring to stay and rebuild.

Customs and Culture

According to Jaus'Ka the Kija have a roughly clan-based structure, with extended family units and strong intra-community ties; however, further discussion with her reveals that the Kija notion of family is a much more fluid and transient thing than its human counterpart. Within Kija clans or communities seniority follows age, with younger Kija laboring on behalf of their elders. The young Kija in turn apparently live and work together, and forming their own 'family,' even though its members may not be related by blood; since Jaus'ka describes clans as multi-generational, it seems more likely that this means the youngsters develop their generations' own internal social structure, rather than forming another tribe separate from that of their parents. Still, the Kija concept of 'family' appears focused more on age-mates than blood relatives. As Kija grow older they move between families (within the same clan or community seem most likely, as Jaus'ka says her birthmarks identify her clan), bringing gifts to their prospective new family to entreat the latter to accept them. Kija may move between families many times during their lifetimes. Different families focus on mining and working different precious resources; thus, Jaus'Ka says, "When a Kija is old they have been part of many families and by doing this [they] have learned many skills". The eldest Kija are often fine artisans and craftsmen, who produce much of the aforementioned gifts and use the clan's collected resources to create works of art and other objects.

Jyabuu

A species mentioned by Xivhishi and then immediately forgotten about by the Icarus crew. Xivhishi finds their capacity for 'growing things' (plants) curious and suggested to Dr. Leroy that the Icarus ought to investigate them. So far, Kemajaa has not mentioned them.

Non-sapient Creatures

Skreeg

A neon lizardlike animal, first encountered by Karen on Yanj'aj, that quickly learns and imitates sounds it hears, repeating a word or a few syllables over and over in rapid succession. It is kept by some as a pet, and is enjoyed by others as entertainment or as food. Cesi owned one, but given Cesi's nature the Skreeg may not necessarily be a species domesticated and raised primarily by the Gozu. Its little feet have a good grip and can crawl easily over a Gozu or a human. When it has found an acceptable perch and is not stressed, it kneads into its wearer with its feet like a cat getting ready to settle.

Jyajau

Another species apparently kept as pets, the Jyajau are toad-like creatures roughly the size and shape of a softball, possessing an inquisitive personality and a seemingly sophisticated animal intellect. In intelligence they are perhaps comparable to that of a parrot or an infant child; in particular, they are quick to mimic actions demonstrated to them and keen to explore and interact with the world around them. Jyajau have tiny gripping hands that can easily and deftly manipulate small objects, which they appear very fond of doing. They also possess highly expressive faces that reflect their moods, and the ability to change colors like a chameleon. Jyajau communicate by vocalization, mostly a repertoire of glurps and glurbles which see use in expressing all its moods. The Jyujau seem to be particularly attention-seeking creatures; the Jyajau becomes upset when ignored or left alone, and equally pleased when it is being played with and given notice. Given that the Jyajau is such a small and defenseless creature, the desire to remain in the presence of larger sapients may be a protective measure; alternately, perhaps it is simply a side effect of this creature's domestication.

Icarus's Jyajau was a gift from Captain Kemajaa to Captain Lambert; it was subsequently named 'Peanut' by Karen Leroy, and has spent its time aboard being passed around the crew and collecting a wide array of knickknacks that have caught its interest.

Gozu allegedly have an aversion to keeping Jyajua, as the latter has a predilection for grabbing hold of and hanging onto the former's feathers.

Systems

ITS-2077-A 'Gateway'

Sol-like yellow star, four planetary masses, two planetoids. The first system explored, moniker derived from having been the arrival point of the Icarus following the anomaly. Seemingly uncontested under Xixiki Xexui Hexeii control, with a sizable fleet and orbital station spire resident. The alien Xivhishi appears to hold significant authority in this section of space.

ITS-2077-B 'Jiixii'

Also known as the Jiixii system, this was the second system explored by the Icarus, and the one in which the Icarus crew encountered captain Kemajaa’s vessels. It is a border system to that of the Xixiki, but is currently considered neutral space.

ITS-2077-C 'Yanj'aj Station'

Overview

Icarus's third stop on its journey, Yanj'aj is an outlying independent merchant station near the edge of Xixiki space, hanging over a bright and cloudy world in the vicinity of a recently collapsed star. Yanj'aj has a sprawling modular design studded with point defense emplacements; the umber-hued structure is covered also in neon-like signage with what appears to be variously either advertising or hazard warnings. Explored regions inside the station included a larger, open-air mercantile section as well as an administrative section consisting of a network of more closed-in and labyrinthine corridors, ostensibly designed for security, as in at least one example they featured antipersonnel weaponry mounted into the bulkheads. The haphazard and somewhat disorganized design of the station is apparently a product of Yanj'aj's history: it was first built as a simple relay station for a local mining operation, namely as both a drop-off point for collected ore and as a refueling depot for the mining vessels. Over time the station changed ownership and expanded its operations, with its sudden growth fueled in part by merchants who wanted a place to conduct their business away from the inner systems. Yanj'aj is a very old and well-defended station now, and has survived two direct attacks from sources unknown. We are given the impression that the station retains a strong central authority that imposes clear limits on what business and behavior is acceptable aboard, but also that it prefers to take a hands-off approach to events that occurs stationside. If Yanj'aj is a hive of scum and villiany, it is one that is careful to preserve its reputation as a place to do business away from prying eyes.

Yanj'aj is populated mostly by Daal, who have their own exclusive areas of the station; the Gozu, however, also maintain a significant presence there, and to a lesser extent so do the Keququ Koboquru. Kemajaa says Yanj'aj is politically independent, but is governed by a guild; what we have seen of the command structure suggests that Yanj'aj's day to day activities are administrated by a group of authorities called Controllers, who variously approve ships for docking, authorize them to conduct limited or unlimited trade (for example, Icarus was not given permission to sell weaponry or hazardous materials), announce ships' goods for trading on the open market, and arranging meetings for those who need to conduct private business. The two Yanj'aj Controllers Kemajaa and Maasu mentioned are Kusazu and Misaaju'dah. Maasu suggests that disobeying the Controllers would be very unwise, and that the outer stations such as Yanj'aj are somewhat more dangerous places than those further in. Kemajaa, for her part, says that Yanj'aj has a good security force; however, they were notably absent during Karen and Stark's altercation with the Daal One-Eye.

Yanj'aj is significantly larger than humanity's Athena station or indeed anything humanity has constructed in space, but it is not a particularly large station by local standards. It has many hangers and docking arms and possesses the capacity to dock a large number of ships the size of the Shyreetayne; at the time of Icarus's arrival it berthed nearly 80 vessels, many of those larger than any human vessel save Icarus herself. However, Yanj'aj has no dock sufficient for the Icarus, though Kemajaa believes that Yanj'aj could potentially still offer Icarus repairs. Most of the traffic the station sees are merchant vessels like Kemajaa's or ships from mining consortiums; its position along a larger trade route makes it a common stopover for refueling, resupply, and repair.

Protocols and Business

Entering the Yanj'aj system, Kemajaa instructed the Icarus to make a certain series of maneuvers on her approach that would allow them to escape notice by a series of sensor beacons. Since Yanj'aj later appears to be a fairly lawful place, and since Kemajaa and her crew appear to be on good terms with the station authorities, it seems likely that the buoys were either of Daal Delujek or other pirate origin, intended to locate traveling merchant vessels to prey on. Alternately, the beacons could have been strung out along some political border Kemajaa had taken a shortcut across, or they demarcated some kind of space "toll lane" or other restricted area Kemajaa's vessels did not have license to travel through.

Weapons must be off-line when on approach to Yanj'aj. Exchange of extremely hazardous goods - fuel, large weapons, and dangerous substances - must occur away from the station. Once on the station, carrying weapons and having security personnel attendant is acceptable. Ships docking must undergo inspection for dangerous contents. More generally, the Controller Kusazu impressed upon Captain Lambert that Icarus would be allowed to conduct business on Yanj'aj as long as her crew didn't cause trouble on the station, and as long as the Icarus didn't draw its enemies there and understood that Icarus's problems were "not [Yanj'aj's] to resolve".

Maasu says that basic goods for trade at stations like Yanj'aj include fuel, consumables, and rare materials, but things like information, culture, and art may be more interesting trade goods. He says that 'some would pay much to trade individuals instead of goods'; whether this refers to servitude/slavery, hiring and selling the contracts of crewmembers, or trading in nonsapient livestock was not specified. Gozu currency is the mainstay vehicle of commerce on Yanj'aj, although Daal, Koboquru, and Anweshul currencies are all in use. There are a great deal of merchants and vendors aboard Yanj'aj, mostly represented by the Daal and Gozu. Many are geared towards entertainment for crews on shore leave - bars and restuarants, tattooing, jewelry kiosks, art, literature and information software stores, individuals selling a bevy of handheld electronics, etc. Other vendors have a more practical bent: notably, there is at least one large-volume arms dealer on Yanj'aj who sells powerful weapons that seem like they might be restricted or banned from civilian ownership. The 'exchange floor,' where most of the business is conducted, has two sections - an 'open section' with kiosks and nodes that Maasu says are often transient, arranged in a sort of bazaar setup where haggling is commonplace, and a 'closed section' with nodes and shops representing more establised businesses who are less open price negotiations. The Icarus has purchased rights to a node of the latter type, and under Administrato Leidolf's instruction is selling some of the ICarus's supplies and provisions to furnish the mission with necessary currency on its voyage.

Miscellany

At the bar the crew found at Yanj'aj we learn that there is a standard classification system in Core for what is safe to consume. Maasu advised that those dishes indicated as species-specific contained substances that might have serious adverse effects on other species' metabolisms; there are likewise additional symbols to indicate foods and drinks intentionally designed to cause various interesting pharmacological effects in their imbibers.