top of page

Dark Star Universe

Birth of the Galactic Federation

DST_Point_Of_No_Return.png
DST_Point_Of_No_Return_Thumbnail.png

Book 1 of the Dark Star Trilogy
Point of No Return

A human colony ship en route to a new planet is a prestigious, but nonthreatening, assignment. All of that goes horribly wrong when the Midgar-6 makes first contact with a hostile alien race. Now, Captain Amara Black and her crew have one chance to save a million colonists in suspended animation… but they might have even bigger problems…

The Midgar-6 was on a peaceful colonization mission... when they unexpectedly make first contact.

With the Midgar-6 trapped on the artificial world of space-debris, Captain Amara struggles to get her crew to safety as the ship is invaded.

The captives on the Midgar-6 meet their captors... and Miranda.

Amara finds a possible escape... and Atalanta stands alone against the Kthid.

Two opposites collide... and aboard the fallen Midgar-6, the fate of Atalanta becomes known.

DST_Be_As_Gods.png
DST_Be_As_Gods_Thumbnail.png

Noctis Sector Chronicles: Be As Gods

Before she was a living legend, before she was the greatest scientist humanity had ever produced, Dr. Maria Keye was less than a nobody…

DST_Event_Horizon.png
DST_Event_Horizon_Thumbnail.png

Book 2 of the Dark Star Trilogy
Event Horizon

The Kthid prepare for the invasion of the Human Federation… but the HEF is not caught unprepared. In both empires, and in the vastness of space, the gears of war begin to grind, and if care is not taken it might grind our heroes to paste between them.

Atalanta gives her report of the fate of the Midgar-6, and a plan is made...

In the darkness of interstellar space, Amara's life crawled on... even if she didn't want it to.

Three years adrift... and when rescue finally comes, what will it cost?

Humanity prepares for war, and in that preparation there are no assets more useful that their greatest heroes. Atalanta knew that better tha

Amara fights for her place in the harem, and for her life as the politics of Maldoror rage around her.

DST_FF_Endless_Night.png
DST_FF_Endless_Night_Thumbnail.png

Found Family: The Endless Night

The interstellar empire of the Kthid survives by the conquest and rape of other species. In every ship, thousands upon thousands of women suffer at the hands of the conquerors. And every one of them has a story.

Technical Journals

These are details on the races, technology, and history of the Dark Star Universe. They are intended to be optional reading – the stories should all work without any of this additional context.

Technical Entries

In the process of creating magnetic containment to make fusion power generations possible, humanity got significantly better at manipulating magnetic fields. In the process, they discovered how to miniaturize the process, creating the Aegis field.

These fields are sensitive enough to polarize both matter and waveforms, and are usually calibrated against a certain velocity – permitting the passage of matter and waves only below a given energy level. For a ship, this threshold is fairly high – almost any speed or energy is too high to be allowed inside, and solar panels are extended outside of the Aegis field to collect solar radiation.

In miniaturizing this technology, however, the Terran Federation has created Aegis fields for personal defense as well. These can either have their settings tuned low, permitting the passage of atmosphere, or high, allowing them to serve as a substitute for clunky environmental vacuum suits. Generally speaking, they permit the passage of an object moving no faster than six centimeters a second.

Humanity has found no real way to make fusion work without this technology, and no feasible way for large-scale space exploration without fusion, so they consider this prerequisite technology – any existing alien species would almost have to also have this technology to become an interstellar species.

-.png
+.png

Possibly the single greatest discovery in the last three hundred years was made by Dr. Robert Lilis in his experimentation with gravity, learning to simulate it. In the process, he discovered a reproducible method for creating traversable wormholes, generally called Lilis Wormholes.

It was known for some time that, by funneling incredible amount of radiation to a single point, it is possible to warp space-time enough to create a singularity, a point where spacetime tears. Once such a the wormhole is created, it collapses almost immediately… but the tear in spacetime remains, waiting for sufficient energy to be supplied to reopen it again. This is usually provided through kinetic energy – a ship passing through a wormhole would require a enormous amount of speed and mass that the wormhole would absorb to become traversable. This process would rob the ship of all its velocity, leaving it at a standstill on the other side of the wormhole as it collapses again. For this reason, only ships with exceptionally powerful engines or incredible mass, enough to generate enough energy to approach the speed of light, would be able to use one.

Dr Lilis’ discovery was a way to circumvent this. Through creating another of these wormholes and direct gamma radiation at it from the main engines, it allow a process called superradient scattering to dramatically increase the scope of that energy… and energy generate, even once bled of, has mass. It allows the ship to “cheat” the amount of mass it has for the purpose of delivering kinetic energy and make it through one of the wormholes before the bridge collapses.

Now, simply being able to pass through one isn’t, in and of itself, especially useful as the Lilis wormholes are created in the same space as one another, the two singularities emerging at the same point. However, they are essentially tiny but enormously heavy objects… they can be picked up and moved. Without them being active, they don’t generate much gravitational pull or have an event horizon, but the amount of energy that went into the rip in spacetime still has a mass of its own, as Einstein predicted in the Earth 20th century.

The Human Expansionary Fleet, or HEF, has taken to crafting these Lilis wormholes and then sending out exploration ships towing their twin along. The end effect of this is that while it might take years or decades to reach a system for the first time and deliver the Lilis Wormhole into orbit around the star, the second time someone travels to that system the process is nearly instantaneous by comparison. This has lead to a slow/fast expansion of the Terran Federation, where the sphere of human control expands only slowly but the rate of growth and colonization within it has begun to accelerate greatly.

As a side benefit, this extra mass also generates gravity. By locating the drive on bottom deck of a starship, it ensures that no matter how it faces, towards the Lilis drive always feels like “down.”

The process by which radiation can be funneled to make this kind of spinning zero-matter singularity that is necessary to make a Lilis drive work was discovered by freak accident while experimenting on something else, and none of the prerequisite technologies or theories are essential for interstellar travel. Human scientists expect that if there are other space-faring aliens out in the galaxy, it is by no means assured or even likely that they have discovered the same process yet. In fact, by the fact that no species has contacted mankind yet combined with the fact that a form of faster-than-light travel in Lilis warpss, it seems very likely no one else has discovered this and humanity is the first.

-.png
+.png

The Midgar-class colony ships are the largest ships humanity has ever produced.

Length – 15,336.8 meters
Displacement – 100,000,000 liters
Power Source – 4 Aegis Magnetic Containment Fusion Reactors, deuterium-fuelled
Cargo – 50,000,000 metric tons
Crew – Approximately 300. The Midgar-6 has an operational crew of 313 (42 male, 271 female)
Passengers – 1,000,000, contained within Cryo-stasis units.
Propulsion –
Sustained: Ion reaction drives
Impulse: Chemical-energy propulsion rocket drives

Midgar-6.jpg
-.png
+.png

Placing people into Cryo-stasis has never been difficult… getting them out has been. The reason for this is essentially very simple – When they are frozen, they are killed. Thawing them out is not so much the process of simply warming them up as it is bringing an intact body back from the dead.

Human medical technology has continued to leap forward in the last three centuries, including a great number of techniques based around both life extension and healing. It is usual at this point for even the poorest of humans to get a gene-therapy treatment every decade or so, that cleans up broken cells and replaces many of them with freely manufactured copies, helping push back the copy-fatigue issue. Biological immortality has not yet been reached, but no one in medicine expects it to elude humanity until the end of the century. Currently, the life-expectancy of a human being born on a Terran Federation world or habitat is about two hundred years.

With this kind of replacement for dead cells, thawing people out of cryo-stasis is possible… but the entire process is still tricky. The body can still only take so much damage before it fails, so the thawing process has to be gentle, slow, and specifically tuned to an individual. Attempting to thaw a frozen subject without the aid of the computer that helped to freeze them has a minuscule success rate.

The most common complication to cryo-stasis is temporary amnesia – the process of rebuilding the brain’s damaged cells is by far the most difficult part of the process, and the one that the computer occasionally gets wrong. All of the pieces are still there, but the brain will need to remake some of the connections itself. This rarely leads to much of a change in personality, but can lead to an uncomfortable few days or weeks while it takes place. Out of the cargo-load of the Midgar-6, it is expected that perhaps 5 or 10 will have this issue.

-.png
+.png

The primary uniform of the HEF is a plain, off-white jumpsuit of farmed spider-silk, woven into the same mesh used by Kevlar in earlier centuries. The fabric is obscenely tough against being punctured, and in many cased bones have been broken in a navy crewmen being stabbed before a blade made it through the fabric. Despite that, it is smooth as the term silk infers, and quite comfortable.

The suit is woven through by the necessary machinery to power the Aegis field, along with kinetic motion generations to recycle the movements of the person wearing it to power the batteries. It generally isn’t enough to make up for extensive use, but it can increase the longevity of the uniform in a crisis by several hours. The suit is also capable of scrubbing CO2 out of the air contained inside its field, using membranes on the arms and legs to filter out the carbon and return breathing oxygen. This is generally enough for two or three hours… after that, masks with additional scrubbers would be necessary to keep recycling air.

The color of the uniform changes depending on assignment. Other colors exist but generally speaking…

Uniforms.jpg

Gold: Command team. Bridge crew.
Blue: Medical Team. Corpsmen, medical officers, and doctors.
Red: Engineering Team. Science officers and mechanics.
Green: Security Team. Marines and weapon-officers.
Teal: Special Assignment. Generally for unique positions.

For most cases, this uniform is sufficient… but when it is known that battle is imminent, there are more advanced versions, like the Enforcement Suit below. Designed for extended combat, it has a far more long-lived life support system, a more powerful Aegis field, and is capable of detecting injuries and administering drugs and compression to minimize their effects.

Security_Suit.jpg
-.png
+.png

With the creation of the Aegis shield, the subject of armament and weapons needed to change – projectile slug-based weaponry was almost entirely useless against a target protected by an Aegis. Largely, the innovation has happened in two ways.

The first way is a return to ancient weapons… largely bladed knives and short swords, quick enough to get inside defenses but slow enough to penetrate the defensive Aegis shield’s repulsive effect. Hand to hand combat technique has never been absent from the military, but has only increased in importance as it became one of the most reliable ways to injure or kill someone protected by a field, as hand-portable weapons had difficultly generating enough energy to overload one. Most soldiers carry some kind of knife in their uniforms in modern times.

The second way was the creation of plasma weaponry. Often referred to as “laser” weapons or “blaster” weapons, and while the weapons look like they discharge a laser, creating a man-portable power source capable of generating a laser high energy enough to affect an Aegis is currently beyond the reach of humanity. Instead, weapons use magnetic containment and spinup to create the early stages of initial plasma fusion using deuterium. Using compressed tritium from a magazine-like reservoir and ionizing it using a low-yield laser, the spinnerets in the barrel of a plasma weapon rotate a thin membrane of plastic to keep the plasma from floating over less-dense gas when released. That sheath is very quickly melted through once the plasma is ionized, but given the speed it travels at, nearly ten times the speed of sound, it last long enough to impact against targets with an effective range of about four hundred meters.

The ionized energy leaves almost a tracer-style afterimage behind it, and moves quickly enough that it appears as a solid beam of energy, leading to the misnomer that the weapon as laser-based, but it is effectively making bullets of highly energized, highly ionized plasma deuterium. This impact contains enough energy to leak some through even an Aegis field, and enough of it can drain the system of energy rapidly.

-.png
+.png

With the creation of the Aegis shield, the subject of armament and weapons needed to change – projectile slug-based weaponry was almost entirely useless against a target protected by an Aegis. Largely, the innovation has happened in two ways.

The first way is a return to ancient weapons… largely bladed knives and short swords, quick enough to get inside defenses but slow enough to penetrate the defensive Aegis shield’s repulsive effect. Hand to hand combat technique has never been absent from the military, but has only increased in importance as it became one of the most reliable ways to injure or kill someone protected by a field, as hand-portable weapons had difficultly generating enough energy to overload one. Most soldiers carry some kind of knife in their uniforms in modern times.

The second way was the creation of plasma weaponry. Often referred to as “laser” weapons or “blaster” weapons, and while the weapons look like they discharge a laser, creating a man-portable power source capable of generating a laser high energy enough to affect an Aegis is currently beyond the reach of humanity. Instead, weapons use magnetic containment and spinup to create the early stages of initial plasma fusion using deuterium. Using compressed tritium from a magazine-like reservoir and ionizing it using a low-yield laser, the spinnerets in the barrel of a plasma weapon rotate a thin membrane of plastic to keep the plasma from floating over less-dense gas when released. That sheath is very quickly melted through once the plasma is ionized, but given the speed it travels at, nearly ten times the speed of sound, it last long enough to impact against targets with an effective range of about four hundred meters.

The ionized energy leaves almost a tracer-style afterimage behind it, and moves quickly enough that it appears as a solid beam of energy, leading to the misnomer that the weapon as laser-based, but it is effectively making bullets of highly energized, highly ionized plasma deuterium. This impact contains enough energy to leak some through even an Aegis field, and enough of it can drain the system of energy rapidly.

-.png
+.png

3d printing is the premiere manufacturing procedure in the Terran Federation in the 25th century. Far and away the most versatile and powerful way to create finished goods and technology, the process allows turning raw materials into finished goods using only two resources… enormous amounts of energy, and waste heat.

The Terran Federation uses carbon nanotubes, created to precisely the size of the atom to be delivered to force a molecule into place and provide enough energy to bond them together. This is an energy rich process, but not insanely so… compared with powering an interstellar ship’s drive, for example, the burden on a fusion reactor is quite minimal. It is not, however, an especially quick process… but still faster than almost any means of manufacturing available in the 21st century.

The Kthid use a different process. Forgoing carbon nanotubes entirely, they deliver molecules using streams of photons from laser emitters. This is far, far faster, but takes place at an almost unthinkably high energy budget… implying the existence of a means of power storage or generation that dwarfs what the Federation is currently capable of. This process, however quick, does come with an additional disadvantage, however… the amount of waste heat also means that producing explosives or fissionables using this method is much more dangerous that the Federations method, and more likely to result in the destruction of the printing apparatus. It is likely they make weapons by some other means.

-.png
+.png

The Kthid have shown that they are capable of another technology that humanity has never mastered yet – the creation of a purely artificial body.

Most of the technologies that the Kthid use, humanity has also developed… artificial nerves, artificial musculature and skeletal systems, and self-repairing nanomachines that replicate the effects of cellular regeneration. The HEF has been using these methods to make prosthetics and powered armor for more than a century now. However, the primary problem stopping the Terran Federation from making these has been the power supply issue… we have never miniaturized fusion to the point that have an internal reactor made much sense, and most means of beaming power were too inefficient to be worth considering for the limit uses that humanity had for the bodies.

The Kthid appear to have solve this issue with the blue “blood” they put into their android bodies. It appears they use this for some unknown form of power generation based on the Casimir effect… further study is required.

Artificial bodies do not have a brain… they rely entirely on intelligence transmitted to them remotely by digital signal, making them perfectly suited for a construct like the Exalted. They give all forms of feedback a human body would… touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing all processed by organs that function similar enough to that of human equivalents. They are not capable of digesting anything taken into them, but they do have waste disposal to incinerate it and expel the ash. In almost every meaningful way, this is a human body but significantly tougher, with skin made primarily of soft, warmed silicon.

-.png
+.png

Humanity has repeatedly tried… and failed… to achieve anything like whole originally Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI… a computer system with human-level problem solving, lateral thinking, and general intellect. This repeated failure ended up leading to the prominence of the Exalted as the Federation’s only computerized intelligence capable of working multiple systems… but that isn’t to say that humanity has failed at making machine intelligence altogether.

Artificial Narrow Intelligence, or ANI, is something that humanity is quite good at. After all, not even the smartest and most talented humans have won a game of chess against an engine in decades, even as of 2020. In the 26th century, almost any given task can be controlled by an AMI, so long as that task is narrowly defined. After all, a chess board only has so many options… analyzing a situation and considering all options are things that AMIs do well. Discarding the options that are bad is something they do not… and why human oversight is required. We call these systems Artificial Machine Intelligence Entities, AMIs or Amy-s.

Almost all advanced mechanical systems are run by AMIs aboard Federation ships, but the limited AI can’t understand the needs of other systems… balancing between the needs and making decisions is the roll of the human crew and operators. They can gather information and act on it far faster and more efficiently, but they are bad at deciding which information to act on. For this reason, AMIs cannot be autonomous… they would break down rapidly outside of supervision as the systems they are dependent on fall apart.

-.png
+.png

Medical technology in the Terran Federation has come a long way, but it’s primary uses are in long-term healing and age extension. Sometimes, for combat medicine, the usual means simply are not fast enough.

Healing Gel isn’t actually a gel at all, but a paste made entirely of nanites and a ready, easy power source for them. When placed onto a wound, their main purpose is to scan the injury and make it functional again in the quickest method possible… to alter themselves to become replacements for the damaged cells and place themselves into the proper structure. By using Healing Gel, open cuts can be closed in minutes, broken bones in hours, and nerve damage in as little as a day.

Of course, this comes with a cost – you are not so much repairing existing parts of your body as you are replacing them with the machine. This doesn’t bother most people, but there are some that refuse to allow them to be used, unwilling to chip away at their humanity and replace part of themselves with something artificial, no matter how natural it looks. Most people look at those objectors like they have lost their minds.

-.png
+.png

For a long time, the dominant theories of where life on Earth originated was either in tidal pools or deep-sea thermal vents… the only places with sufficient energy and movement to allow a chemical soup to permit abiogenesis. However, in the late 20th century, another theory began to emerge as people realized how many of those conditions existed just as easily or easier in space. Panspermia (from Ancient Greek pan meaning ‘all’, and sperma meaning ‘seed’) is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the universe, distributed by space dust, meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and also by spacecraft carrying unintended contamination by microorganisms. Distribution may have occurred spanning galaxies, and so may not be restricted to the limited scale of solar systems.

 

Panspermia hypotheses propose that microscopic life-forms that can comfortably thrive in space, such as extremophiles, can either develop through the mingling of chemical soup churning in the solar wind and gravity fluctuations, or develop on another planet and become trapped in debris ejected into space after collisions between their planets and other stellar objects. From the early 1970s, it started to become evident that interstellar dust included a large component of organic molecules. Interstellar molecules are formed by chemical reactions within very sparse interstellar or circumstellar clouds of dust and gas. The dust plays a critical role in shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of ultraviolet radiation emitted by stars. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. Under certain ideal impact circumstances – into a body of water, for example – it is possible that the surviving organisms could become active and begin to colonize their new environment. At least one report finds that endospores from a type of Bacillus bacteria found in Morocco can survive being heated to 420 °C (788 °F), making the argument for panspermia even stronger. Panspermia can explain the origins of life, but the studies on it concentrate less on how life began but instead on methods that may distribute it in the universe.

 

This method of life spreading would propose facts that match the fact-pattern of this story so far – that all life likely to be found would, in fact, be biocompatible… made of the same building blocks, the same 4 DNA amino acids, and while it wouldn’t follow the same evolutionary paths it would come from a common origin… in this story, appears that may be the Dark Star, pushing away from it on the rocks expelled from the whale-creatures.

-.png
+.png

For a long time, the dominant theories of where life on Earth originated was either in tidal pools or deep-sea thermal vents… the only places with sufficient energy and movement to allow a chemical soup to permit abiogenesis. However, in the late 20th century, another theory began to emerge as people realized how many of those conditions existed just as easily or easier in space. Panspermia (from Ancient Greek pan meaning ‘all’, and sperma meaning ‘seed’) is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the universe, distributed by space dust, meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and also by spacecraft carrying unintended contamination by microorganisms. Distribution may have occurred spanning galaxies, and so may not be restricted to the limited scale of solar systems.

 

Panspermia hypotheses propose that microscopic life-forms that can comfortably thrive in space, such as extremophiles, can either develop through the mingling of chemical soup churning in the solar wind and gravity fluctuations, or develop on another planet and become trapped in debris ejected into space after collisions between their planets and other stellar objects. From the early 1970s, it started to become evident that interstellar dust included a large component of organic molecules. Interstellar molecules are formed by chemical reactions within very sparse interstellar or circumstellar clouds of dust and gas. The dust plays a critical role in shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of ultraviolet radiation emitted by stars. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. Under certain ideal impact circumstances – into a body of water, for example – it is possible that the surviving organisms could become active and begin to colonize their new environment. At least one report finds that endospores from a type of Bacillus bacteria found in Morocco can survive being heated to 420 °C (788 °F), making the argument for panspermia even stronger. Panspermia can explain the origins of life, but the studies on it concentrate less on how life began but instead on methods that may distribute it in the universe.

 

This method of life spreading would propose facts that match the fact-pattern of this story so far – that all life likely to be found would, in fact, be biocompatible… made of the same building blocks, the same 4 DNA amino acids, and while it wouldn’t follow the same evolutionary paths it would come from a common origin… in this story, appears that may be the Dark Star, pushing away from it on the rocks expelled from the whale-creatures.

-.png
+.png

The Fermi Paradox, at its core, is the paradox between of the oldness and vastness of the universe, and the complete lack of any sign of observable life in it. The Mediocrity Principle tells us that we should assume humanity is fairly unremarkable, and the way life evolved on our planet should be assumed to be fairly typical until shown otherwise, but a quick look at the Drake Equation tells us that if we take the lower end of stars in the universe, the lower end of what part of them would be sun-like, and the lower end of how many of them would have a rocky planet with liquid water in the Cinderella zone where it is neither too hot nor too cold, there should be upwards of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 Earth-like planets in the universe… or about 100 for every grain of sand on Earth. And most of them are incredibly, incredibly, incredibly much older than ours, and life did not take long to start arising on Earth after the planet formed… so if its as natural and common of a process as the Mediocrity Principle suggests, life should have existed in the galaxy for billions of years before Earth was formed.

From here, the Law of Large Numbers comes into effect, where we are forced to assume that even if a microscopically small percentage of a group would want to do something, the numbers are so vast that that tiny % still makes a large enough number it becomes an inevitability. And if a space-faring race emerged on one of those old-earths, and decided to colonize the galaxy, and sent out colony ships at an unfathomably slow rate of one every thousand years, and their colonies took another thousand years each to send out a colony ship of their own… the entire universe would have long ago been colonized by that entire race by now due to simple exponential growth.

Obviously, this hasn’t happened. So, if the universe is so old, and so vast… where are all the aliens, anyway? We should see them. In fact, we shouldn’t be able to miss them if we tried!

There are many theorized and proposed solution to this paradox, but far and away the dominant accepted line of scientific thought is School of Thought A – The Great Filter… although what the filter is is hotly debated and still studied. The idea goes that in order for us to notice alien life, that life needs to start existing, evolve, get intelligent, and survive long enough to get off their planet and start spreading or sending signals, and there are barriers any race would need to solve to get through that process and stay alive. A Great Filter is a barrier so severe and difficult that 99.999999% of species that try fail and go extinct.

The lines of thought generally go with one of these three – We’re Fast, We’re First, or We’re Fucked.

If we’re Fast, the idea is that the Great Filter was environment rather than developmental… that there is some evidence that until relatively recently the Universe was a much more hostile place to the development of life than its current state. This mostly takes account of how much more common Quasars and Gamma Ray Bursts worse until a few hundred million years ago, and supposed that life’s evolution in the universe really only started fairly recently, essentially greatly shortening the timescope. With the lag of lightspeed, that could explain our lack of evidence of alien life.

If we’re First, it means that the Great Filter is already behind us… and we aren’t mediocre at all. In fact… we probably ARE the only intelligent life in the Universe.

If we’re Fucked, it means that the Great Filter still is head of us, or at least that we aren’t passed it completely yet. Nuclear War, AI, Climate Destruction, the creation of Antimatter, and other such problems that seem inevitable to a growing society are often proposed filters still in humanity’s future as possible Great Filters. This chapter flirts with some of these ideas for the dead civilizations found by Talia Icarus in this chapter, but obviously intelligent alien life DOES exist, so we get to School of Thought B.

School of Thought B goes “Aliens exist, but we don’t see them because X.” The Kthid, in that way, are a solution to the Fermi Paradox… at least locally… any intelligent life that arises in the are draws their attention, and their society becomes too short lived to spread enough to become another civilization on their level. We don’t see alien life because any alien life that draws attention to itself gets wiped out… and by the time we are aware of the Kthid, its too late.

XKCD Fish Fermi Paradox Comic.png

Now, this doesn’t explain the universe-wide lack of life having already colonized this galaxy before the Kthid arose… so clearly there is a combination of factors here… and clearly the Dark Star has something to do with it.

Note: This post lead to a very interesting discussion about the Fermi Paradox on discord. If this is your first encounter with the idea, I am NOT covering it in the depth it deserves here – I highly advise reading more up on it or watching some excellent Youtube video essays.

-.png
+.png

Stars, in the way we are naming them, are named using the Bayer classification system, named after the German astronomer Johann Bayer. He divided the sky into wedges defines by the constellation in that wedge, and named the stars by brightness. Bayer assigned a lower-case Greek letter (alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), etc.) or a Latin letter (A, b, c, etc.) to each star he catalogued, combined with the Latin name of the star’s parent constellation in genitive (possessive) form. Alpha Centauri, for example, means the brightest star in the Centaurus constellation wedge.

Bayer used Greek letters for the brighter stars, but the Greek alphabet has only twenty-four letters, while a single constellation wedge may contain fifty or more stars visible to the naked eye. When the Greek letters ran out, Bayer continued with Latin letters: upper case A, followed by lower case b through z (omitting j and v, but o was included), for a total of another 24 letters.

Bayer did not label “permanent” stars with uppercase letters (except for A, which he used instead of a to avoid confusion with α). However, a number of stars in southern constellations have upper-case letter designations, like B Centauri and G Scorpii. These letters were assigned by later astronomers following Bayer’s use of Greek letters, but this was insufficient for many constellations. He used first the lowercase letters, starting with a, and if needed the uppercase letters, starting with A, thus deviating somewhat from Bayer’s practice. Lacaille used the Latin alphabet three times over in the large constellation Argo Navis, once for each of the three areas that are now the constellations of Carina, Puppis, and Vela. That was still insufficient for the number of stars, so he also used uppercase Latin letters such as N Velorum and Q Puppis. Lacaille assigned uppercase letters between R and Z in several constellations, but these have either been dropped to allow the assignment of those letters to variable stars or have actually turned out to be variable. Most of these letters have had names assigned to them, like hurricane names.

The Noctis sector, and therefore most of this story, is in the Eridanus constellation wedge, so most of the stars are designated (something) Eridani.

-.png
+.png

The Kthid don’t have a way to cheat the speed of light the way the HEF does… so they need very powerful drives to accelerate between stars in a reasonable timeframe. They do this by harnessing the power of black holes, creating what is called a Singularity drive, or a Kugelblitz drive.

For concentrated energy packed into a small area, it is incredibly difficult to do better than a black hole. Mass has energy… and the idea that black holes don’t give off any of that energy and it is gone forever is a bit of a misnomer because of a phenomenon called Hawking radiation. An interesting quirk of Hawking radiation, however, that makes it useful for starship propulsion is that the smaller (less massive) the singularity is, the quicker it gives off Hawking radiation… an incredible amount of energy. Despite being smaller than an atom, the black hole would weigh more than 700,000 tons and would give off hundreds of petawatts worth of energy over its roughly 5 year lifetime, billions of nuclear bombs worth every second. By using particle mirrors, Hawking radiation provides the impulse needed to push a starship up to an eye-watering 72% the speed of light.

The singularity cannot be refilled, but it can be recreated… usually by using solar power satellites gathering energy and focusing them into a single, inwardly focused pulse of light and radiation. The pulse of light needed is the equivalent of the sun’s output for 1/10th of a second, or .01% of its output gathered over 10000 seconds. For this reason, the first thing any Kthid fleet or ship will do when they arrive in a new system is create solar power satellites for use in refueling. Those satellites can also be used like pushing lasers to help slow down an incoming ship, bouncing photons off of the Aegis field.

 

For further reading, I suggest this.

-.png
+.png

The greatest breakthrough in physics in the history of humanity was made, by utter accident, by Dr Robert Lilis while working on ways to wirelessly broadcast power. It had been known for more than a century that it was possible to create a singularity by colliding enough radiation energy into a single point, but what he discovered by accident was that if the radiation came from 7 equally spaced points, it would impart that energy in such a way that caused the newborn singularity to be spinning when it was created, a ringularity.

This is important because while a small singularity can be useful for some purposes (See Singularity Drive), a spinning ringularity has some other, far more interesting users. It can serve as a battery, storing that rotational energy and giving it back on demand as we slow that spin.

How this works is that a ringularity generates enough gravity, mass, and energy that it warps space-time around it, dragging it with it as it spins into a region of space-time known as the ergosphere, a region of space-time that is moving along with the blackhole. For an artificial ringularity that the one Dr Lilis discovered how to make, this region is only a few feet across… but if you put gamma-radiation mirrors around it, and shoot in gamma radiation, something odd and very cool happens called hyper-radiant scattering, where the black hole’s spin slows a little, and some of the gamma radiation is sucked into the blackhole, and what is left becomes far, far more energetic and can be gathered up to produce more energy that was put in, basically using the blackhole’s spinning motion as a giant battery.

The effect of this is that the HEF can, on short notice, generate incredible amounts of energy… like when they are passing through a wormhole to keep their momentum intact and escape the tunnel before the tunnel collapses back to a singularity again. Without a device such a thing, traveling through a wormhole is probably impossible.

As a side benefit, this region of space-time generates gravity, so by placing the drive on the bottom deck of the ship, humanity creates artificial gravity for their spaceships.

-.png
+.png

Artificial gravity is considered one of the holy grails of technology… replicating one of the fundamental forces of the universe while ignoring mass. We often imitate it through spinning habitats, but there are issues with that for long range travel… issues that the Kthid are very aware of. No one has found a way to artificially create gravity without mass, however… but there are ways around this.

Acceleration and gravity are functionally interchangeable… and that creates ways to mimic gravity through electromagnetism and nanomachines. This is how Kthid artificial gravity works. Their atmosphere is not merely air – it is a gelatin-like chain of nanomachines, configured one and all to link together in an electomagnetic chain and accelerate “down,” towards the deck of the ship. This mimics the gravity of the Kthid homeworld, about 1.1g.

Functionally, there is no difference between this and gravity. It makes the air feel human and thick, but not any more so than naturally humid air, and the nanomachines lack receptors that could cause them to interact with the inside of the lungs – they just get breathed out, the same way they get breathed in. The main limitation of this, then, is that these chains need to be manufactured and repaired. It is unknown at this time how the Kthid do this, but they much have access to a far more detailed nanoforge than humanity has been able to conceive of or build.

This technology is referred to as Clarketech – Technology that we have a theoretical understanding of how it would work and how it would be possible, but have no idea of how we’d go about building it in the real world.

-.png
+.png
Dyson Swarm.png

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its solar power output. The concept is a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a spacefaring civilization would meet its energy requirements once those requirements exceed what can be generated from the home planet’s resources alone, and where it will find living space for a growing population. Because only a tiny fraction of a star’s energy emissions reaches the surface of any orbiting planet, building structures encircling a star would enable a civilization to harvest far more energy… in fact, more energy could be gathered in several seconds than has been used by the species in their lifetime prior to the megastructure.

The version closest to Dyson’s original conception, and by far the most easily constructed, is the “Dyson swarm”. It consists of a large number of independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) orbiting in a dense formation around the star. This construction approach has advantages: components could be sized appropriately, and they can be constructed incrementally. Various forms of wireless energy transfer, or wired transfer within ladder rings, could be used to transfer energy between swarm components if necessary.

Technically, the swarm around Maldoror is what is called a “Dyson bubble”. It would be similar to a Dyson swarm, composed of many independent constructs and likewise could be constructed incrementally.

Unlike the Dyson swarm, the constructs making it up are not actually in orbit around the star, but would be statites —satellites suspended by the use of mass and light sails, using radiation pressure to counteract the star’s pull of gravity. Such constructs would not be in danger of collision or of eclipsing one another; they would be totally stationary with regard to the star, and independent of one another, and because they are “stationary” relative to each other the material stress of connecting one to another is greatly lessened. Because the ratio of radiation pressure to the force of gravity from a star is constant regardless of the distance (provided the satellite has an unobstructed line-of-sight to the surface of its star), such satellites could also vary their distance from their central star.

Such sails would be sufficient to support space habitat the size of the L5 Society’s proposed O’Neill cylinder — 500 km2, with room for over 1 million inhabitants, massing 2.72×109 kg (3×106 tons). Multiple such sails could support a ring of far larger habitats… McKendree Cylinders, with room for billions and billions.

In theory, if enough satellites were created and deployed around their star, they would compose a non-rigid version of the Dyson shell mentioned below. Such a shell would not suffer from the drawbacks of massive compressive pressure, nor are the mass requirements of such a shell as high as the rigid form. Such a shell would, however, have the same optical and thermal properties as the rigid form, and would have a comparable level of habitability… and population density.

Space Habitats – McKendree Cylinders

Most of the habitats that orbit Maldoror are what are called McKendree Cylinders. Some of them use nanoweave-based artificial gravity, but most of them use rotation to simulate gravity. A cylinder would consist of two counter-rotating cylinders. The cylinders would rotate in opposite directions in order to cancel out any gyroscopic effects that would otherwise make it difficult to keep them aimed toward the Sun. Each would be 5 miles (8.0 km) in diameter and 20 miles (32 km) long, connected at each end by a rod via a bearing system. A McKendree cylinder contains 13 million square km of living space. At city density, that means a single one could contain as many as 250 billion lives… casted Kthid, casteless, and slaves. Most don’t contain nearly this many… but there is room for expansion well into the future.

For additional information, you might be interested in reading more here.

Dyson Swarm 2.jpg
-.png
+.png

The no-cloning theorem in a principle of Quantum Physics was first proposed in 1970, and has since held up to both experimental testing and mathematical proofs. The theory, in a simple form, draws on the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle to show that it is impossible to create an identical copy of an arbitrary quantum state – the very act of trying to measure one to recreate it would change it. In theory, this means that making a perfect copy of anything is impossible.

However, this does not stop quantum data – called qubits – from entangling. In the Dark Stary Universe, the story posits that one copy is what is called an Imperfect Clone of one another, with entangled qubits. When one is forced to collapse into a known quantum state, it forces a change in the other entangled qubit. This results in two copies of an Exalted that act slightly differently, and otherwise-illogical changes in which one is the “original” to occur.

For reasons that I am not smart enough to really understand, this theorem is closely linked to another, called the No-Deletion Theorem.  If one is true, the other is, by force, true. This theory has some of its own quirks as relates to Exalted, but probably of the most importance to them is that it proves the idea of Closest Continuation for consciousness – The quantum state of a copied human brain cannot be destroyed, so it must continue to exist elsewhere, in the closest place that it could exist… which would always be the newly copied Exalted mind. As far as the Exalted are concerned, this would be positive proof that they are not merely copies of a dead person… they are that person, and changing which body they are in did not change their consciousness. You can learn more about these fascinating bits of physics here.

-.png
+.png

A Matryoshka Brain is a theoretical type of megastructure built around using the sheer power output of a Dyson Swarm-like construction, but rather than use that power to create food and sustain life it would all be used to power a computer… a computer so vast with so many interconnected circuits that it would need to compartmentalize its processes to avoid problems with relativity and time lag, and uses the vastness of its construction as a form of cooling, radiating away excess energy after it has already been used to power calculations.

Matrioshka Brain.png

Named after the Russian Nesting Dolls because of their construction, a Matrioshka Brain would be several Dyson Swarms nested inside one another. The innermost Dyson Swarm of the Matrioshka Brain would draw energy directly from the star it surrounds and give off large amounts of waste heat while computing at a high temperature. The next surrounding Dyson Swarm would absorb this waste heat and use it for its computational purposes, all while giving off waste heat of its own. This heat would be absorbed by the next sphere, and so on, with each sphere radiating at a lower temperature than the one before it. For this reason, Matrioshka brains with more nested Dyson Swarms would tend to be more efficient, as they would waste less heat energy, and also more powerful as the outermost layer will always be the most powerful, and the more layers there are the larger and more efficient that final layer will be. Ideally, the outer layer’s temperature would be close to that of ambient interstellar space.

The sheer amount of processing power possible using one of these defies imagination. More than one scientist has noted that simulating whole realities is easily within the capabilities of such computing power – this is the origin point of Supposition 1 of Nick Bostrum’s famous Simulation Hypothesis, which we will not be going into here. Many more things are possible with this degree of usable calculation.

-.png
+.png

First proposed by the physicist James Nicoll in the early 2000s, the Nicoll-Dyson beam is a weapon of weaponizing a dyson-swarm like construction. Specially configuring the swarm to use its energy collectors as a funnel rather than absorbing it for power, the swarm would be able to function as a phased-array laser, focusing and then delivering a beam of light hundreds of lightyears away at a planet-sized object… that’s predictable orbit would leave it incapable of evading the weapon.

Depending on the time spent focusing the energy on the target, this would be capable of turning the world to dust, or “merely” burning its atmosphere away in a matter of seconds, sterilizing it.

This was originally conceived as an offensive means of using a dyson swarm around a star. However, the same construction, with the exact same principles, functions around a black hole swarm, gathering and then reemmiting a gamma radiation laser instead.

In either case, given enough time to work, this is a nearly unstoppable weapon. It would move at the speed of light, so by the time a target could be aware that such a weapon was fired at it it would have already arrived. Given that planets follow a predictable orbit, aiming such a weapon is trivial, and it could easily result in extinction-level events for every world in range, should those in control of such a weapon wish it.

-.png
+.png

History Entries

Earth did not come under the rule of a single world government by intention, but rather by accident. The sheer cost and scope of colonizing the solar system, funding the terraforming of Mars, and eventually interstellar travel was so great that only by combining their resources through the United Nations was it possible. This lead to the birth of the precursor to world government, the Human Expansionary Fleet.

The HEF grew rapidly as its viability was proven, mining asteroids and making habitats proving to more than pay for itself, repay the creditor nations, and begin to expand itself. Soon, nearly every nation on Earth was contributing to it, no one wanting to be left behind in the wake of the wealth it was generating. Increasingly, however, power came not to rest on Earth at all, or even on Mars, the first colonized planet other than Earth, but rather in the habitats, space stations, and ships of the HEF that controlled most resource gathering and trade. Once the orbital rings were built, even travel around the Earth was largely controlled by them as they could do it far quicker and safer than anyone else.

This had an unexpected effect. For reasons that are still unknown, the effects of low gravity on men are stronger than they are on women, especially in the eyes. Men go blind after spending too long in space, where women do not. Over time, this lead to a significant advantage to the number of women serving in leadership positions of the HEF, and while the medical problem has long since been corrected the power inequality in leadership has not come close to stabilizing yet, since the same advances in medical technology have lead to people living much longer. To this day, nearly 80% of the officer corps of the HEF are women… and with the importance of the HEF in planet-bound society increasing every day the power dynamics of the last two thousands years found themselves suddenly quite reversed.

It was around the time of the founding of the second colony world that Earth began to realize their influence was slipping. Mars and Freya had been founded by a single government that represented their interests, and most of the other colonial sites in the system like Ceres and Titan did as well, while Earth still squabbled and fought and saw their prestige and power diminish with each year. After a series of soft-hegemonic moves and a few Wars of Unification with rogue states, Earth finally united under a single world government.

The Terran Federation is a democratic republic of planets centered around the orbital rings of Earth. Each planet has theoretically equal representation. In truth, Earth still holds almost a quarter of the population of humanity and access to the most resources, so out of the planets they tend to be the most in control. The true dominant power, however, is clearly the HEF, which at this point has grown beyond the control of any one of the human governments.

The Terran Federation currently has five colonies – Mars, Freya, Set, Athena, and Moro. Miranda would be the 6th colony. There are hundreds of space stations, mining stations, scientific research posts, and other such things scattered across human space.

The society is mostly matriarchal. It isn’t that men don’t have, legally, the same rights, its just that, with space travel being by far the more prestigious route to advancement, and women being so much more suited for it, that the vast majority of those in leadership positions are women.

-.png
+.png

The Ship of Theseus is a famous philosophical problem first posed in its current form during the time of ancient Greece. It is supposed that the famous ship sailed by the hero Theseus in a great battle was kept in a harbor as a museum piece, and as the years went by some of the wooden parts began to rot and were replaced by new ones; then, after a century or so, every part had been replaced.

The question then is if the “restored” ship is still the same object as the original. If it is, then suppose the removed pieces were stored in a warehouse, and after the century, technology was developed that cured their rot and enabled them to be reassembled into a ship? Is this “reconstructed” ship the original ship? If it is, then what about the restored ship in the harbor still being the original ship as well? And if that rebuilt ship set sail for a new destination, while the other stayed in the museum, had the ship really been there? Had its crew been on board the same ship?

This has been in interesting problem without a real solution for centuries, but it never really had a practical application until the birth of the Exalted… digital humans that were brought into existence by the destruction of the original brain and capable of copying themselves and having multiple copies acting at once.

Philosophers have never stopped arguing about the idea, or about at what point a divergence a copy of one of the Exalted becomes a new person instead of a theoretical copy, but for their part the Exalted have solved the problem to their satisfaction. For the most part, they subscribe to Heraclitus’ original solution… the idea that identity is an inherently fluid and changing concept, and that nothing remains “itself” for any period of time anyway. The change to their identity made in the evolution between biological and machine life, to them, is no more severe than the change to a boy’s identity the first time he learns his street address… he is no longer the same person, but the consciousness of the first and second person merge – the idea that it is impossible to step twice into the same river, as even as the water flows and replenishes itself, the original is gone. Just like that, human consciousness is always moving on as well… flowing effortlessly from place to place capable of maintaining it. Maintaining some degree to continuity of consciousness is all that matters to them.

In practical terms, how they approach this is to minimize the flow and maximize continuity. An Exalted copy made seeks to return to a central location and join with her other copies as soon as possible, merging their memories. As long the memories and experiences continue to be merged, continuity of consciousness is maintained and the Exalted as satisfied that they, their original, biological mind, and their copies are all the same being, not different beings.

 

(Even by the standards of this story, this is a simplistic explanation of the problem, and there isn’t really a “right” answer to the paradox. If you are encountering this idea for the first time and are curious, I urge you to read more about it)

-.png
+.png

Exploration and pathfinding is a primary purpose of the HEF. Since the distance between stars is so vast, however, it requires a very special kind of ship to do it… one built for a single purpose. Capable of using a concentrated laser to boost its speed up to a sizable portion of the speed of light, decelerating sharply enough to come to rest in the end system, and with sufficient construction abilities to create new Lilis wormholes. Originally, the plan was to use some kind of Von Neumann probe for this purpose but at the time the Exalted process had not been discovered yet and sufficiently independent AI still has not been discovered to allow this method… so humanity compromised.

These purpose-built ships, the Elysium-class Pathfinders, are all dozens or hundreds of lightyears away from Earth at this point and will never be returning to Terran Federation space. Populated with smaller shuttles, the smallest ships humanity could devise capable of reopening a Lilis wormhole, the ships move between the stars, creating new wormholes and swapping out their crew with fresh crewmembers at each stop among the stars.

The Elysium-class ships were horrifically expensive – even compared to more modern, larger ships – so there were never many of them. Instead, they sent one out into every sector, exploring in every direction at once. So it was that humanity’s domain continued to grow equally in all directions… except for in one.

About a hundred a fifty years ago, contact was lost with Mistrunner, the Elysium-class ship exploring the Eridani Sector of space, and exploration in that direction stopped. For reasons that are still not publicly known, it took nearly fifty more years before the ship was officially designated as ‘missing’ rather than ‘in transit.’

Eventually, exploration had to continue in that direction… so they selected a particular captain for the prestigious assignment – Captain Miranda Black. In a newly designed Pathfinder ship, the prototype Sabre-class, she went through the furthest open Lilis warp point in the Eridani sector and resumed exploration in that direction. In the next twenty five years she scouted out thirteen prospects that automated probes had found, including finding the planet that bears her name, Miranda, located around 74-Eridani. She created four new Lilis wormhole points, and was only several years from returning through the wormhole after a successful third mission when her ship failed to check in.

Additional scouts were sent looking for her, but no sign was ever found.

-.png
+.png

Earth, throughout its history, has had no shortage of martial arts and monastic practices that stressed mind over matter, but they long ago stopped being true martial orders… more like schools of thought for the wealthy or trend-seekers than filled with true believers. Once upon a time, orders like the Shaolin had been warriors… and the Templar are their modern equivalent.

The arrival of the Void Tracers on Earth caused incredible upheaval, not just because of their ferocity but the aura of mind-melting fear that accompanied them. The sheer chaos and horror that their presence inspired chaos upheaval and disruption wherever they rained down on Earth… but in some places, the HEF forces held. Invariably, they were anchored by Templar.

More than a martial art, the Templar code was a mindset… a form of mental discipline resembling a trance. The order taught its members to sink into a purely analytic flow state where fear had a hard time finding a grip on them. This mind-over-matter state allowed a skilled warrior to almost turn off the parts of their mind that the Void Tracers attacked, rigidly holding their fear in place and acknowledging it as just one more data point to consider rather than a mind-destroying horror. Such warriors could keep calm against the Void Tracers and employ their weapons calmly against a species that did not use any of its own.

After their efficiency in fighting the Void Tracers was discovered, the order ballooned in size with new members eager to learn, and a surprising discovery was made… the Sethis were especially well suited to it. The way their brain chemistry worked, slightly different from humans, made slipping into that flowstate a little easier, and staying in it during the head of combat much much easier. Nearly half of all Templar in the HEF are Sethis.

-.png
+.png

Galactic Encyclopedia of Lifeforms

-.png
+.png
Alician.jpg

The Alicians are one of the highly advanced races that the Kthids have conquered so far, and the one they conquered first. The Alicians were a peaceful race that valued art and science most of all, and while they were spacefaring they had yet to colonize another world, only creating habitats around their own world, moons, and asteroid belts. When the Kthid came, most of their race wasn’t equipped or trained to fight against them in large part… so they selected the greatest warriors of their number and cloned them, copying her memories and skillset. Greatest of all of them was a woman named Nicia, whom was cloned perhaps as many as a hundred million times. These clone warriors, called the Shadow Sisters, differentiated themselves with numbered names and different facial tattoos to give them a slightly different look, but all copies coming from the same cloned memories were all very, very similar in personality, coming from a copied set of the same memories and experiences and not having much time to differentiate themselves.

Despite this effort, however, the Kthid harvest fleet washed over them like a flood. When their race was defeated, every surviving member was taken into captivity… including, by sheer numbers, mostly surviving clones. These days, about two hundred years later, a few hundred clones of Nicia are all that is left of their race – everyone else is dead.

Alicians have snake lower bodies, and from the top of their head to the tip of their tail they are around 24 feet long… in fact, Nicia, and therefore her clones, was precisely 24 feet 4 inches. Despite their reptilian appearance and their superficial resemblance of reptiles, Alicians are warm blooded and have two hearts.

Medical Science: The greatest advancements in science that this race has made was in their medical technology, where they have advanced significantly beyond humans or Kthid in practice. Alicians were functionally ageless when their civilization fell, and had mastered cloning technology as well as memory uploading. Their computer technology, however, has lagged behind… in large part to the abnormally strong calculating capabilities of their minds and strong memories, disincentivizing their development. 21st century computer technology is advanced a bit beyond where there’s was when they fell. The Kthid have stolen most of the medical technology, but they have little interest in cloning and consider it an abomination. However, most scholars believe that it was from the Alicians that the Kthid grew beyond their short lifespans to their current, long lives.

Stereotypes: Alicians are very calculating and considering, skilled at running numbers in their mind. This process, however, does leave them prone to deeper thought and distracted, leading those that don’t know them to see them as distant and disinterested.

Derogatory Terms: Shadow Sisters, Ground-huggers, Mirrors, Tails, Snakes

-.png
+.png
Arane.jpg

Very little is know about the Arane… and most of the mysteries are things they themselves do not know any longer. Almost nothing remains of this races’s history or culture, save that the Kthid conquered them sometime before the Arane. Despite the hundreds of years of captivity, their race is by far the conquest of the Kthid that has survived the longest in slavery… in fact, they are still among the very most common slaves in the Kthid Empire.

This is because of the way they reproduce thousands at at time from eggs – An Arane woman who’s reproductive function is hijacked by the Kthids will generally not be fully taken over, and at least a few dozen Arane eggs will be produced along with a larger egg containing a newborn Kthid. It appears they are able to self-fertilize their own eggs in a male-less environment, and this combination of factors has lead the species to technically survive so long – new members are still being born in captivity. However, the last conquered member died without getting to teach their daughters anything of their language, their culture, or their history… as far as the Arane know they have always been slaves, they have no language, they have no culture, and they have no history.

It is possible some record of part of their history remains, somewhere… but it isn’t being taught to them. Those who know the habits of the Kthid assume they must have been a strong race, since the Kthid did not actively work to prevent them from breeding… they probably put up a fight. No living member of the race remembers it, however. They don’t even have any real idea what their natural lifespan is, as no member of their race has reached it for centuries.

Arane are dark-skinned humanoids with 8 limbs and hands very similar to human ones with 4 fingers and opposable thumbs. They mature quite quickly for an large-brained intelligent mammal – an Arane is considered an adult mentally and physically at 9 years old, and they reach the level of a human 6 or 7 year old after just one month.

The Kthid, however, also consider their eggs a delicacy.

Stereotypes: None, save that the Kthid consider them utterly replaceable.

Derogatory Terms: Snacks, 8-legs

-.png
+.png
Cephalians.png

The cephalians of the present day grew up upon sandy archipelagos and grown rafts floating upon an inland freshwater ocean. Cephalians are ruled by prelates: specific cephalians said to be chosen by the gods of the cephalian people in order to rule over and to safeguard the golden age that they have enjoyed for the entire length of recorded history. Despite their institutional stasis, their stagnant population numbers of around half a billion, and their less-than-impressive list of scientific and technological achievements, cephalians still enjoyed lifetimes that stretched considerably into their second and third centuries and can live lives safe from disease and predators as long as they don’t venture into the more dangerous saltwater oceans surrounding their world.

Without much cultural interest in science, conflict, or expansionism, cephalians put their time into art, music, poetry, pleasure, and the tending of the expanse of their garden world. When the kthid invaded, the cephalians lacked even the concept of soldiers and militaries, resulting in them quickly falling quickly beneath the yoke of their new enslavers. The robust bodies and naturally resilient physiologies of cephalians meant that the overwhelming majority of their population continues to draw breath beneath the kthid imperium, but the trauma that accompanied the experience of transitioning from a live of endless comfort to one of horrific enslavement has left most cephalians damaged, traumatized, or completely insane.

Biology: Cephalians generally ‘stand’ around between 150-170 centimeters in height with 7 pair of seperate limbs including 2 arms, 6 shorter cranial tentacles, and 6 longer pelvic tentacles. To manage their highly complex bodies, cephalians are born with 8 brains and 3 hearts which work to supply their bodies. All cephalians have fertile wombs, reproducing in a process which leaves both members of a pair pregnant with a single child. Disregarding rare and tragic complications during the birthing process, cephalians are universally born with a twin sister from across two different wombs. Cephalians tend to form very close bonds with their twin sister, resulting in incredible amounts of trauma when twins are handed off or sold off to kthid owners following their subjugation.

Cephalians are a fully amphibious species, though their natural range has readily humid air. Without ready access to water, cephalians will begin to asphyxiate although this process can take hours. All members of their species possesses a field organ in their bodies capable of producing a weak electromagnetic field used mainly for camouflage as well as chromatophores: a network of color-changing cells covering their bodies which they use to express their moods. Owing to the trauma of enslavement, around 97% of all cephalians have lost the ability to express any color but blue and white.

Ancient civilization: there are signs to suggest that cephalians have fallen into an extended period of neo-primitism, though evidence of a more advanced remains necessarily sparse and primarily exist as relics that were captured during the subjugation of their homeworld. No present cephalian civilization possesses mastery of technology beyond complex mechanical devices such and printing presses and windmills, though cephalians are proficient at both. In general, the cephalians seem to spend most of their time molding the natural world to suit their liking through a process poorly understood even by kthid who have put time into researching the matter.

Stereotypes: Cephalians are usually meek, conflict-averse, and cooperative. They make for very obedient slaves, though they do still break down and stop functioning if forced into harming other slaves and especially their twin sister. They are regarded by both kthid and other slaves as pathetic and cowardly, often attracting abuse from their masters for it.

-.png
+.png
Coronaptids.jpg

Another race enslaved by the kthid empire, the coronaptids were discovered by the harvest fleets on a verdant green world, occupying several scattered city-states across the main continent. They shared the planet with a second intelligent race, the lepidopterans, who worshiped and served them, viewing the far less numerous coronaptids as gods. Occupying only the upper echelons of their society and disdaining manual labour, the coronaptids indulged freely in art and high culture, ordering their devoted lepidopteran servants to build monuments and sculptures to their increasingly lavish designs.

Beneath the peaceful, opulent view their rulership deliberately presented to their servants, the coronaptid leadership caste freely engaged in acts of blackmail, kidnapping, assassination and sabotage against each other, while those below them schemed for advantage to overthrow their superiors. It was considered uncouth to involve the hapless lepidopterans in these shadow wars, with the prideful coronaptids preferring their squabbling remained hidden beneath a façade of benevolent, divine leadership. 

Physiologically, coronaptids appear to have evolved as ambush predators. While their bodies are slender and delicate, covered in a fragile pink carapace, they each sport a pair of secondary upper limbs ending in vicious, hooked claws and a primary pair of arms used for more delicate manipulation. Meanwhile the wing-like structures protruding from their torsos are not capable of flight but instead project a unique pattern of bioluminescent pigments that can lull a viewer into a kind of hypnotic trance that renders them calm and suggestible. While the effect works remarkably well across almost every sapient species found in the Noctis sector, a prepared opponent can shrug off the hypnosis with ease.

Curiously enough, it is apparent on even the most cursory analysis that the coronaptids share almost no relation, genetic or otherwise, to the lepidopterans or any of the other fauna on their supposed homeworld. Their lithe, slender bodies and clawed limbs also appear adapted to a predatory existence in an environment entirely different to the one they were discovered on. The answer to this apparent mystery are hinted at in the ancient mythic cycles of their race describing the coronaptids fleeing their distant home in the wake of some unspoken cataclysm and descending from the stars on fiery spheres, bringing light and civilization to the primitive lepidopterans. A second world within their home system also showed evidence of supporting life in the distant past, though now barren and stripped bare of any resources.

In any case, there was no trace of whatever advanced technology the coronaptid race had once used to escape that first doom of their homeworld by the time the kthid harvest ships descended upon them. With their few warriors more accustomed to espionage and assassination than open combat against a far superior enemy, the coronaptid civilization fell quickly, and their females as well as those of the hapless lepidopterans were carried off into slavery.

 Stereotypes: Due to their former status as worshipped divinities, coronaptids have a reputation for being haughty and arrogant even in slavery, an amusing trait for their kthid masters. They are also viewed as treacherous and conniving, scrabbling for any advantage even in the most desperate of circumstances. Their fragile bodies mean they hold up poorly to any sort of rough use, leading them to be viewed as weak and pathetic.

-.png
+.png
Atalanta Holo Resized.jpg

The Terran Federation has never quite cracked the code of how to make fully functional AI – They have learned to create numerous ANIs, but AGI – Artificial General Intelligence – has proven beyond the reach of their programming. They have, however, found a way around it, or rather, one particular woman trying to solve the problem of her own mortality did. Dr. Maria Keye, possibly the greatest scientist of humanity still “living,” managed to invent a process for scanning a human brain and uploading it into a computer. The process is inherently destructive, meaning that it kills the person it is used on and destroys their brain, meaning there will be no second try. The process expensive and prone to failure, so it isn’t done often, and these days Dr Keye oversees the process herself. It can, however, be performed after death as long as the brain is kept fresh.

Because of its expense and the difficulty in performing it, as well as needing the doctor to personally perform the upload, this honor is generally given to the people most important to the federation after death – the greatest heroes of humanity.

Once uploaded, one of the Exalted is effectively immortal… with a backup kept in non-disclosed location on Earth, not a single one of the Exalted has been lost in two hundred years of use. A given Exalted is free to choose its own task, but the nature of the people chosen for this honor mean that they usually take on important, needed tasks to assist the Terran Federation and the Human Expansionary Fleet.

Capabilities:

An Exalted’s actual intelligence is linked to how much processing power they have available at the time. For this reason, an Exalted is usually uploaded onto a ship’s mainframe, giving them the full power of the ship’s computers to work with. They are capable of adjusting the frame rate at which they think to about 1000x real time, making time appear to pass 1000x faster or slower to them. They can also control certain emotional and cognitive processes with far more precision than organic life is capable of.

An Exalted is also capable of duplicating itself, and remerging the code later to integrate the experiences of the copy. The Exalted tend not to do this too many times, but a dozen or so copies of a single Exalted running around independently for a few months isn’t rare. The Exalted feel comfortable in this solution to the identity issue, that a copy of themselves is the same person and no one has ever refused to merge their code.

There are 37 Exalted in the Terran Federation. Because of the matriarchal nature of the Federation, all but one of the Exalted are women. All of them are part of the HEF.

Stereotypes:

The Exalted have a bit of a reputation to be holier than thou and judgmental. This tends to be true… if they are working with humans they didn’t choose. More than one captain has ended up in conflict with the Exalted running her ship if the Exalted loses respect for her captain.

Derogatory Terms:

Chips, Hollows, Legends, Icicles, Ghosts

-.png
+.png
Faliran Form Chart.png

The Feliran are one of the two highly advanced races that the Kthid have conquered before this series begins… an extremely intelligent race of insectile humanoids that had a very advanced society… more so that humanity in some ways. When the Kthid came, their civilization already stretched over 13 worlds, was highly cooperative. Once upon a time, before the race became sentient, there were once thousands of variants on their species on their homeworld. It was only after they grew intelligent and advanced, however, that they discovered this through the fossil record… their race wiped out all competitors at the top of the food chain before they evolved intelligence, and the guilt for that has left an impression on the race.

When the Kthid harvest fleet came about twenty five years ago, the campaign to conquer them was brutal and extended… but in the end their species was wiped out saved for those kept in captivity of the Kthids… thankfully, the captives still numbers in the hundreds of millions or perhaps even billions due to the scope of their empire, but something like 90% of their race was lost.

The Falirans have something of a voluntary caste system – they can cocoon themselves and over the space of a few months metamorphose into a different caste. More important for this story is the Queen phenotype, which has the most unique feature – a direct connection to the Hive mind. A queen has the intellectual and emotional capacity to process all of that raw data and feel it… giving her an ability to sense the thoughts and emotions and feelings of any member of her race, allowing communication near instantly over distance and otherwise impossible levels of coordination. There never were many queens – the personality required to have this sort of empathic connection and stay sane aside, the sheer caloric intake required by one to keep her brain functioning is incredible, so it would be foolish in the extreme to have too many. Obviously, since there are no actual societal rules or laws controlling what caste a person can be, anyone could choose to become a queen, but the neat part is that the caste is inherently self-regulating… if you don’t have the temperament or need to be one, once you become one you will be connected to everyone, and the sheer level of empathy all but forced on you would shame basically any rebel into doing the right thing.

The Hive Mind: Their most notable trait was that at some point in their evolution, their species became effectively psychic… their minds are structured in a way that leaves them especially prone to quantum entang