Tag Archives: Stellar Consortium

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Back on Big Blue #storytelling #amwriting #OtherSpace

Landon Briggs sits at a table, reading the local news reports as he sips his coffee at Fred’s Diner. He offers a smile to the waitress as she refills his cup, smarmy as ever, and says “Thanks. Earth has the best coffee. You just can’t get a good cup out there.”

Briggs has contacts everywhere. Including Consortium government and the Vanguard. None that would betray the government for him, but some that may pass on some unclassified information. So here he sits, awaiting one such contact to ask about the recent bounty on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He let slip that he may have a lead, but wanted some more info before risking his life.

Not long after, a man in sunglasses and a dark suit settles into the chair across from Briggs at the table. “You’re absolutely right about our coffee.” He nods to the waitress. “Sivad may be second best, though.”

Briggs politely chuckles. “Tea perhaps. The coffee is shite.” He sets his datapad down and offers a smile to the man. “Thanks for meeting me. What’s new here on the Big Blue?”

“Few things are new *here*,” the man in the suit replies. The waitress returns a short while later with the drinks. He asks for two glazed doughnuts and then, conspiratorially, informs Briggs: “I really shouldn’t, but it’s been one of those weeks.”

“I’ll have scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns.” Turning back to his companion he says “So what’s the deal with these marines? I may have stumbled across a lead and that bounty is pretty juicy.”

The man in the suit takes a drink of his coffee as the waitress departs to relay their orders to the cook. He then replies to Briggs. “I am curious to hear more about this lead.”

Briggs rolls his eyes, “Now now. I can’t give away my sources. And I’m certainly not going to give up the info and lose the bounty. But I may know someone who saw the Queen Anne’s Revenge leaving Tomin Kora and has their heading. Tracking them from there is within my skill set. But I need to know what I might face. What you know of the crew. How many brutes I’ll need to hire.”

The waitress returns with a plate of doughnuts for the man in the suit. She informs Briggs: “Your breakfast plate will be out directly.” After she walks away, the suit says, “We know a man and a woman appear to run the ship. We also know more than a dozen special ops personnel are dead, possibly because of them. Take that for what it’s worth.”

“So they think the crew was involved in more than just cleaning up after whatever happened? Any idea of motive?”

The waitress delivers breakfast to Briggs, then leaves the two men to continue their discussion. The man in the suit bites into the first doughnut, then washes it down with coffee. Finally, he shrugs. “You’re after a bounty. Leave the investigation to the professionals. Bottom line is: We really don’t care if they were just the clean-up crew or if they pulled the trigger on our people. We want them, alive if possible, so we can get those answers.”

After thanking the waitress Landon digs into the eggs. With a full mouth “Extra money if alive? Bounty said dead or alive. Dead is a lot easier.”

“The Consortium government isn’t going to openly condone vigilante justice,” the man in the suit replies. Another bite of doughnut, then: “Pay’s the same, either way. Alive or dead, we won’t get our soldiers back. We can safely assume someone on Tomin Kora had a role in their deaths. Lord Fagin may not like it if we decide to bust that dome of his.”

That gets a laugh, “I don’t even think Fagin exists. It’s some rogue AI is my guess.” He finishes on the eggs, barely stopping to chew, then goes after the hash browns. “I’m surprised you guys put up with him for this long. Or is that what that squad of marines was doing on TK?”

The man in the suit smirks. “Criminals can be useful.” Then he says, “Our soldiers didn’t go to Tomin Kora on Vanguard orders. They were participating in a readiness exercise on Sivad before they were ambushed and kidnapped. So, perhaps a caveat you should consider before accepting this…opportunity…is that the people behind this possess the means to take out a spec ops squad.”

Landon finishes his meal, sends payment through his datapad for both meals and stands. “Alright, well I think I know what I need to know. It’ll all depend on how much muscle I can get and if it’ll be worth it. And of course if I can actually track them. Thanks for the info.” He also passes a few untraceable credit chits discretely to the man in the suit.

The man slides the chits back across the table to Briggs, offering a thin smile. “You’re working for the Consortium government, at great risk to yourself. You owe me nothing but results. Good luck.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-space: Awakening the Goddess

In transit, on the knife edge of time and space, breaking the light barrier with the Tilsworth-Cooke Drive, the Vanguard carrier Versailles leads a combined fleet of warships searching for the renegade Yaralu known as Kemetti. General Charles Avocet, the fleet commander, peruses images of wreckage from the destroyed cruise liner Avondale. Thousands of people looking forward to a relaxing getaway, snuffed out in moments by the whim of this great beast.

A fighter on patrol finds a trail similar to the one that led the fleet here. It is an FTL trace leading to the Fringe, possibly Ungstir.

“Nest, this is Fledgling Six,” reports the pilot aboard the Stinger fighter that’s running point for the Versailles. “My sensors show a polydenum burst residue trail aimed roughly toward Ungstir.” The general orders the navigator to plot a transit solution. In ten minutes, the drive should be powered up for another jump. Fledgling Six is ordered back to the Nest.

In the outer reaches of Ungstir’s system in far orbit of its sun, Kemetti keeps  his sensors active, looking for any stray vessels that might venture too far from the established shipping lanes.

Once Fledgling Six is back aboard Versailles, the combined battle group makes the jump toward Ungstir. Avocet orders a message broadcast on all subspace frequencies: “Denizens of Ungstir, this is General Charles Avocet of the Stellar Consortium. I have reason to believe the creature that destroyed the cruise liner Avondale may be in your region soon. Take all necessary precautions.”

Kemetti picks up the transmission and immediately begins to move further away from the system, watching as most traffic scatters to safe berths. He begins to consider his options before deciding upon a destination. Moments later, he wheels around and leaps into FTL. Towards the Line of Pain.

Some time later, the combined fleet drops to sublight in the Perseverance star system, where the remnants of Ungstir orbit. Immediately, fighters spill from the Versailles and start their picket routes in search of Kemetti. Nothing immediately shows on sensors. So the patrolling ships start scanning for polydenum bursts.

The patrols eventually come across Kemetti’s trail far away from Perseverance, and it seems to make a beeline for Parallax space.

“That’s interesting,” observes General Avocet as he reviews the latest trajectory projections for the creature. “Very interesting.” He prepares another message for transmission to Nalhom on an encrypted diplomatic channel: “This is General Charles Avocet of the Consortium starship Versailles. We are tracking a violent sentient starship that destroyed a cruise liner near Antimone. Our evidence suggests the creature is now en route to Parallax territory. I trust this may not meet with your approval. If you need our assistance, please advise. We have no intention of crossing the Line of Pain.”

Kemetti comes out of FTL at the Line of Pain and begins to race along it, moving as quickly as possible from his polydenum trail. A week is but a moment in the life of a Yaralu and he seems quite content from his last meal.

The Clawed Fist Fleet responds to the warning from the Consortium, dispatching a dozen warships – including a carrier – toward the Line of Pain.

Just outside Parallax space, on the edge of the border net, Kemetti continues his rapid, though sublight journey along the Line of Pain, heading in the general direction of the Ancient Expanse. He dodges through wrecked ships with surprising agility as he uses the line not unlike a fox might use a river to mask evidence of his passing.

Ur’soth Yok of Hatch Kavir, commander of the Clawed Fist Fleet carrier Slashing Strike, waits impatiently for the report from the sensors station.

The Huth reviewing the data hangs suspended in a chain-and-cushion seat, clawed feet dangling inches above the deck plate. His tail lashes back and forth as he swipes the sensor display to a great magnification, showing the nearest span of wreckage in the Line of Pain.

The faintest blip – a sensor ping from one of the Nalhom intelligence probes, reporting a vessel in motion, matching no known profile. Massive. He transmits the data to the Ur’soth, the weapons officer, and the flight deck.

Yokkavir studies the pulsing signal as it is traced in real-time. “Prepare to intercept and launch fighters,” he hisses. “And notify the Vanguard: we are tracking the creature. They must not violate our territory. We will deal with it.”

Beginning to detect approaching vessels, Kemetti puts his trust in speed to keep ahead of all but the smaller vessels. Moving laterally across the border, he makes certain to keep the interdiction net between himself and the Parallax so as to keep retreat an option.

General Avocet lifts his eyebrows as he reads the communique from the Nall.

His adjutant asks: “Shall we break off pursuit, sir?”

The general shakes his head. “No. We maintain a parallel along the Line of Pain until we’re sure the Nall have engaged the enemy. Until then, we do our best to give that monster nowhere to run.” He studies the map on one of his HUDs. A wave of his hand zooms out. He moves “north” a bit, toward the less-explored territory. “Our prey is going sublight now. Tell the Sivadians to jump ahead to these coordinates.” He indicates a spot that remains outside the Line of Pain but might cut Kemetti off on his path to the Ancient Expanse.

Kemetti picks up on one of the Vanguard sensor nodes ahead of him, and a tendril reaches out and snatches it. With a sudden change in thrust, he converts his forward momentum into rotation and hurls the unmanned device in towards Parallax territory before setting off again.

Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell waits with implacable calm as the five ships of his fleet make their transit at FTL to the coordinates ordered by General Avocet.

During the journey, he has time to enter a new log while sitting in his quarters.

“I am grateful for the opportunity thus provided by the Vanguard fleet commander,” the rear admiral states into the mic. “It is my solemn vow to avenge those lost aboard the Avondale. I consider it mandatory, particularly because I accept full responsibility for prompting the massacre when our fleet dropped to sublight near Antimone. The fact that I was acting on orders is no excuse. I must live with their blood on my hands. I can but hope to die well trying to balance the ledger.”

Picking up movement in FTL ahead of him, Kemetti continues on course, as the sensor probe behind him begins to approach the Line of Pain.

The sensor officer aboard the Slashing Strike reports the detection of a sublight object roundabout where the redirected sensor probe is moving. Nowhere near as massive, though. Still, he diligently reports it to Yokkavir. The Ur’soth huffs, flicking a forked tongue as he ponders.

“Debris from the Line of Pain, perhaps,” Yokkavir muses. “Displaced by the beast, possibly. But this entire episode could be a ruse of the Vanguard to find a way to get close to the Line of Pain and skirt our defenses.”

He orders a third of the fleet contingent to intercept the sensor probe. The rest remain on a course matching Kemetti.

Kemetti does not change his course, still awaiting whatever lies in store ahead of him.

What lies in store drops to sublight adjacent to the Line of Pain ahead of Kemetti – five Sivadian Navy vessels, including the carrier Lafayette, which immediately unleashes a dozen fighters while battleships Winston and Manchester lock their main guns on the Yaralu. The two destroyers, Corbin and Blackstone, move into flanking vectors as they prepare to engage Kemetti.

As the FTL signatures approach, Kemetti slows to be out of bombardment range upon their arrival. When they arrive, he cuts sharply to starboard, towards the Blackstone’s course and the interdiction net. No going back now.

Soon after, the Nall fleet drops to sublight on the other side of the interdiction net – with the Blackstone between them and Kemetti. Yokkavir is displeased by this turn of events, but orders fighters and accompanying Nall warships to engage the Yaralu. “If the softskin ship is damaged, so be it,” the Ur’soth growls.

As the Yaralu approaches the Blackstone, a pair of tendrils flash out towards the vessel,   but rather than attempting to ensare it, they seem to be engaged in a striking motion.

The Blackstone tries – unsuccessfully – to dodge the strike. But Kemetti now finds himself in range of the battleship guns, as well as plasma missile launches from the Nall fleet. All weapons in range are firing on the Yaralu, while the Blackstone is sundered in half in a burst of shrapnel and oxygen. As the assault begins, the Vanguard fleet arrives from behind Kemetti. The noose is tightening.

Kemetti seems almost surprised at how easily the Blackstone is destroyed and is forced to change his plan and direction. As he detects the missile launches, he cuts hard to port towards the main Sivadian fleet, drawing the missiles after him as his shields and body keeps the battleships’ fire off of them.

As Kemetti maneuvers, he also faces the onslaught of fighter swarms from three militaries as the Vanguard joins the fight along the Line of Pain.

It is a situation fraught with danger, as Nall ships, Sivadians, and Vanguard find themselves launching salvos at the Yaralu with little concern about the crossfire.  Missiles, rail guns, pulse cannons – the void is suddenly a chaotic miasma of destructive energy and projectiles.

The Yaralu leads those few missiles toward the main Sivadian force, but Kemetti himself is the hub of a wheel of destruction. And while most of those blasts are going to find their target, not just a few are catching allies and cold war enemies alike in the crossfire.

“Damn it,” Avocet mutters as he watches the threat board HUD swarming with bloody fireflies and blossoming spirals. “Even after that beast’s down, the Nall are going to have their blood up.”

Born in the vastness of space, Kemetti is in his element, with no need for cold metal between him and the space around him. His shields begin to fail as he leaves the edge of the interdiction net, however, and it seems that he may be unable to draw the fight into the midst of the Sivadian fleet in time. He has yet one more ploy open to him. With a strain of effort and thrust, he pulls up, taking a course parallel to the galactic axis where none of the fleets have moved. Once there are but a few fighters between him and open space, he engages his FTL propulsion. He might take a deal of damage on the way out, but the fleets below him might find themselves otherwise occupied.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell proclaims as he spies Kemetti’s escape maneuver. He stands at his command station and shouts: “Ramming trajectory, ahead full!” He aims to put the nose of the Sivadian carrier through the sentient starship’s belly.

Meanwhile, the Vanguard and Clawed Fist fighters continue to harry the Yaralu, peppering it with blasts – and occasionally slamming into each other.

“Jesus wept,” Avocet says as he sees the Sivadian commander’s maneuver. “Someone took the Avondale really personally.” He then orders all weapons to open fire. “Empty the magazines! Take that monster out!”

Spewing fluids from tears in his hull, the Yaralu has no time to await the arrival of the carrier from the rear line. He takes a fighter or two in the face, but it is better than a carrier in the chest. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t fun, but the immense creature slips out of the universe, clawing for velocity.

The Sivadian rear admiral watches, powerless, as his wounded quarry slips away. To be fair, most of the bridge crew seem relieved that they haven’t succeeded in killing themselves with a kamikaze maneuver.

St. John-Crowell, on the other hand, looks gaunt and broken. Still, he smooths the front of his uniform jacket, tugs at the lower hem, and then transfers the conn to his second in command before retiring to his office adjacent to the bridge.

He sits in the chair at his desk, pulls a slugthrower from the drawer, puts the barrel to his temple, and pulls the trigger. Blood, brains, and hair splatter the rectangular porthole behind him.

“Break off,” Avocet yells, a command relayed to the fleet. “It’s over! Fledglings, back to the Nest!”

As the Consortium forces tear away from the battleground, leaving wreckage from two empires – and bits and pieces of Kemetti – Yokkavir observes from the bridge of the Slashing Strike. His jaw falls open, hissing in amusement. “The Goddess slumbers no longer,” he whispers. “Send word to the Vox: Consortium forces violated the Line of Pain and engaged our glorious warriors in their attempt to destroy that ridiculous creature. Let’s see how she feels about this violation of our sovereignty.”

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[CONSORTIUM WORLDS] Centauri

CentauriWCentauri, a planet found in the Alpha Centauri System, is the chilly (-120°F, -84°C) homeworld of the Centauran species. Its temperature and anaerobic atmosphere make it uninhabitable to water-based life forms. The surface of Centauri is covered in city-sculptures such as the capital Shalyaris, which houses the international spaceport and the main office of the CRI. Foreigners are officially welcomed, but the complete lack of privacy afforded them tends to discourage emigration and tourism.

Overview

Climate

The atmosphere consists of primarily carbon dioxide and nitrogen, with ammonia and trace gases. Although Centauri lacks the temperature-moderating influence of oceans, sunlight falling on the planet is typically insufficient to drive major weather systems. Thin ammonia clouds can precipitate a light dusting of snow, while carbon dioxide frost may sublime in low-lying areas. Small pools of liquid ammonia with dissolved minerals can also form where temperatures are high.

Ecology

Centauri has three largely separate types of ecology: natural, agricultural, and urban. Wholly natural environments are found only in the several hundred nature reserves in carefully-chosen locations around the planet. Most are surrounding mountains and sites that might otherwise be more difficult to develop. These nature reserves are filled with a profusion of colorful vegetation and small wildlife and contained by a light mesh fences of sufficient height to retain flying creatures. Agriculture is not as important to the photosynthetic Centaurans as it might be to other species, but it does have vital roles to play. Centauran mineral supplements, nitrogen gas, decorative objects, and certain types of nanotube stock are examples of products more efficiently grown than manufactured. Along with agriculture, urban environments account for most life on Centauri. City parks and decorative gardens in the eaves of dwellings are home to a few hardy and low-maintenance or beautiful and well-loved species. The most numerous species of large animal life, by far, is the Centaurans themselves, whose population is in the hundreds of billions.

Geography

Millennia of construction and re-construction have left the surface of the Centauri smoother than one might expect for a planet with such weak forces of erosion. Landforms consist of mainly low hills and shallow basins, though a few mountain ranges do exist. Outside of small wildlife refuges, the planetary crust has been thoroughly reshaped by habitation and industry. Available mineral resources, with the exceptions of iron, nickel, and heavy metals, have been evenly redistributed into architecture and living things.

Civil engineering

Excepting large wildlife refuges and urban parks, the surface of Centauri is fully developed. The outer few hundred feet of the crust might be described as a foam, so thickly is it laced with residences, industries (including agriculture), and observatories. The lines and arcs of mass-transit systems and shipping lanes streak the surface in an orderly fashion. Vertically, population is concentrated at the city-sculptures of the surface; horizontally, the population density is nearly the same in all locations. What little geothermal and tectonic activity existed has been brought entirely under Centauran control by massive artificial constructs underground. Melted craters left by the Nall bombardment of 2550 have been built over, but not yet entirely eliminated.

Centauran Physical Data

  • Height: 6 feet (1.83m) from bell tip to tentacle tip
  • Weight: 300 pounds (136kg)
  • Circulation pressure: 512/16 mmHg
  • Circulation rate: 5 cycles per minute
  • Respiration rate: 2 cycles per minute
  • Bell Temperature: can vary with environment, -120F (-84.4C)
  • Lifespan: 400 Terran years
  • Native Language: Telepathy, Tataskra (written language)
  • Homeworld: Centauri

A peaceful but strong-willed race, the denizens of Centauri are known for their remarkable scientists, physicists and mathematicians. Centaurans can participate in spoken communication, which is more comfortable for many species than telepathy, using special electronic vocalizers. These convert manipulations of brainwaves into speech sounds and vice versa.

Centaurans loathe violence and will, as a general rule, pursue diplomatic resolutions to any severe conflict. They are dedicated to the pursuit of science and exploration for peaceful ends, and find science for profit repugnant. Their long term and society-oriented solutions to problems, which may involve death and heavy responsibility, can appear to be coldly logical. But the use of telepathic consensus and their lack of facial expressions do not at all mean that decisions are made without the sharing of emotion. The motivations may simply be difficult for individualists to understand, and the expressions difficult for non-empaths to perceive clearly.

Centaurans hold their species in regard above others, respecting the most those civilizations that feel no need to use their power and knowledge in flashy or violent displays.

Society

Their society is perhaps best summed up by ‘collectivism.’ Desiring privacy for its own sake and secrecy for personal reasons are regarded as pathological in Centaurans; the existence of these feelings in other races is a sometimes troubling, but well-recognized oddity. Some information is kept from the other races to prevent danger to themselves and others, but greater and freer communication is generally regarded as the means to a safe environment. Positive socialization and being able to sense organic minds are not only desirable for Centaurans, but essential for mental health.

The open exchange of words and feelings among Centaurans allows them to find and treat a wide variety of behavioral and sociological problems (many of which would be regarded as personality traits by other races). To allow for innovation, some harmless eccentricities are allowed, guided by the stabilizing influence of neighbors and colleagues. Simple punishment is regarded as pointless; friendly persuasion, medical treatment, and re-education are used instead, and since antisocial problems are caught early by the telepathic communities, the individual’s potential usefulness is largely preserved. If an individual does not respond to treatment, then it is useless to society. It is killed, and its body consumed and spun into new constructions. Aliens are sometimes seen as not worth the trouble of curing and can have odd notions like not wanting their violent tendencies repaired. Any visiting alien that poses violent danger is executed without question or trial.

Population control is vital to the Centaurans, given their distaste for colonization. Whenever an important leader dies the Cycling occurs. The Cycling is roughly mass, coordinated suicide. Many Centaurans apply to participate in the Cycling, but few are chosen. To be chosen is considered a great honor, among the noblest possible conclusions of a Centauran’s life. Participants in the cycling line up in concentric circles around the remains of their leader. They then fall to the ground, one after the other, shattering into pieces which are gathered up for important construction projects.

Biology

Centaurans might appear at first to be simple bubbles of glass with arms, but their transparency reveals a complex structure. Much of them is contained within a rounded shell composed of layer upon layer of violet-tinted glass. Many of the organs are arranged around the inside of the shell, the being’s bulk being in a trunk that hangs in the middle and divides into eight tentacles.

As asexual creatures, they give birth once every six years, from 27 years of age to about 250. A unique sort of connection exists between parent and child, but a harmonious relationship with neighbors is essential to growth and education.

The digestive system, which has a single opening, is stained blue by the colonies of algae that sustain their host with nutrition derived from nitrogen and light. Not much is needed, but proper lighting cannot be done without for more than a couple days. Every few weeks, in order to weave constructs, regenerate broken tentacles, and nourish unborn young, Centaurans must consume matter through an orifice in the base of the bell. Hydrofluoric acid digestive fluid helps them to dissolve the crystalline organisms of their homeworld, but would turn the organics of most other species’ food into steaming hot carbon. Most kinds of soil are nutritious, but even glass, inorganic ceramics and composites, and glass-shelled organisms can suffice, if they contain no high levels of toxic metals.

A ring of forty-eight iridescent pink eyespots (or fifty, in some familial lines) surrounds the base of the bell, providing an enormous and continuous field of vision. Turning around to look in a certain direction is pointless for a being that is nearly radially symmetric. In addition to physical sight, Centaurans have a powerful intuitive sense for visualizing spatial relationships and motion.

Centaurans possess no blood as such, with various substances carried in molecular tubules. This accounts for their ability to withstand temperatures far from optimal. When injured, however, liquid may seep from their tissue.

The ring-shaped lung near the top of the trunk is also the location of their somewhat limited hearing ability. Respiration involves only nitrogen, with an optimal temperature of -120 degrees Fahrenheit. (This is below the temperatures at which dry ice evaporates and liquified ammonia gas boils.)

Their chief method of locomotion is a smooth glide several feet in the air, accomplished by psionically pressing against the ground (or pulling on a large stationary mass overhead). On average, Centaurans can rise about seven yards above a horizontal surface; with effort, they may be able to attain much greater altitudes.

Naming Conventions

Centauran names are a compilation of the first two letters of their most direct line of ancestry, usually four or five generations. So, the offspring of Altiarxi (who is descended from Yrtaltal, who is descended from Xyltyr, who is descended from Ortlanxi) might be known as Yrxyoral.

[CONSORTIUM WORLDS] Demaria

Homeworld of the bipedal felinoid aliens known as Demarians.

Geography

Alhira

Home to over fifteen million Demarians, the sprawling desert capital of Alhira is the main occupied city on the planet. It is situated among the Brakithira Hot Springs, in the shadow of the Stubtooth Mountains. As the heart of modern Demarian society, it boasts the world’s largest spaceport, along with the Great Houses, the Temple, and Consortium embassies.

Sand Mother

The name given to the massive desert which spans much of the main continent. While dotted with small settlements and oases, it is mostly a barren wasteland of beasts and raiders.

Stubtooth Mountains

The mountain range south of Alhira. Snow exists on the northernmost peaks, while volcanic activity has been recorded in the south. It is home to a number of small mining communities.

Climate

Much of Demaria is a harsh hot desert with little rainfall and scorching summertime temperatures, though more temperate regions and rainforests exist south of the Stubtooth.

Biology

Bihar

Only the gentlest may handle the Bihar flower of Demaria, for it bruises easily. It makes a lovely sight when floated gently on a setting of water, but getting it inside is tricky. One hand must cradle it gently, not bruising it itself while the other must shield it from outside damages. Red is the more normal color, but on rare occasions, the plant will produce a blossom of almost the color of gold. No one knows why. The golden blossoms bruise more easily than even the red.

Mykir

A flowering plant that is the source of a deadly poison called mykiritox. The scent of the blooms themselves are thought to have a strong aphrodisiac effect on Demarians, however.

Dribgib

A large, meaty bird that is native to Demaria’s coastal regions. Resembling a Terran ostrich, this long-necked feathered beast that can reach up to eight feet tall has short, stubby wings that render it incapable of flight. Not to be thought of as slow, however, as it has been known to achieve running speeds upwards of fifty kilometers per hour. Dribgib is frequently sold at local Demarian restaurants and food stands, most often fried.

Grithu

On average, the chameleon-like grithu lizard of Demaria runs about eight inches in length. It is prized for its tusks, which are used in Demarian costume jewelry.

Jestleahna

A small desert rodent found throughout the world.

Padraki desert bumblers

Shaggy brown-furred bovine creature of Demaria with six legs and a whip-like tail, standing about six feet tall and four feet wide. Females are fairly docile until their offspring are threatened, then they turn themselves into furry battering rams. Males are typically mean-tempered anyway, and will find any excuse to try to trample a Demarian bumblekeep. Bumblers are a common source of meat for Demarians.

Sand dancer

About six inches long, this sandy brown desert menace of Demaria has eight legs, four frontal claws, a tough exoskeleton and a twin-barbed tail tipped with poison.

Sand eel

Found in pits throughout the Sand Mother, these deadly creatures are worm-like animals who trap their prey – be it sentient or otherwise – in the pit by puffing up sand until the victim is within gnashing distance. Then, the eel uses its poisoned barbs to subdue and, ultimately, kill the quarry. Demarian nobles often make the capture of a sand eel for their own home (considered a sign of good luck) a trial for their family. They then use the eels for entertainment, sending underclassers into the pits to try to steal the barbs.

Society

A proud, noble felinoid race with a penchant for comfort, extravagant clothes and pampering. They are tall and agile, with enhanced aural and olfactory abilities, as well as possessing night vision. The harsh desert world of Demaria is their home, which they share with the psionic, pack-oriented Theorians.

Physical Data

Demarians are big, tough bipedal cats – apex predators on a world dominated by the inhospitable dunes of the Sand Mother. They can crest seven and a half feet (228 cm) at their tallest, with males generally being larger than females. They bear all the feline features one would expect, from fur to whiskers to tails, and can resemble anything from the most common of housecats to the most fearsome jungle beasts. All varieties stand digitigrade and have retractable claws on all four paws. Kits are not born in large litters but rather two or three at a time, and while mothers provide milk for their young, females do not have noticeable breasts.

Community

Demarian society is class-oriented, with a line drawn down the middle between noblemen of the Great Houses and the underclassers who serve them. The people themselves, regardless of social standing, define honor, bravery, and loyalty as the most important of virtues, and those Demarians who have lived their lives boldly and with great integrity are held in the highest regard.

Among the most important figures among the Demarian people are their warriors and storytellers – echoes of a history rich in tribal warfare and oral tradition. As they have established themselves within the larger interstellar community, their tendency toward infighting has substantially diminished, though the Great Houses are not above engaging in political intrigue to improve their own wealth or power.

The Great Houses

Hundreds of minor houses dot the Demarian landscape, but the planet’s ruling body – the Senate – is comprised of representatives from Great Houses Sandwalker, Darksinger, Pathfinder, and Skyglider. House Sandwalker is generally considered the greatest among equals, owing to its legacy as the House of Altheor, but the Senate can appoint any eligible member from the four Great Houses to the seat of Demarian Imperator.

On Demaria, nobles do as they will, living in wealth and luxury and suffering little in the way of consequence should they kick dirt in the teeth of the lesser class. Children are expected to put their House first, be able warriors and hunters, and strive to embody the highest ideals of their culture. Males are traditionally viewed as strong and virile, females as literate and queenly; however, gender roles are not hard and fast, so long as the child brings glory to his or her family.

Underclassers

Underclassers are everyone in Demarian society who is not a priestess or a nobleman. Many serve one of the greater or lesser Houses in some capacity, whether by being born into servitude or by simply enlisting with the family of their choosing, but the vast majority are simply everyday people with everyday jobs and lives. The average Demarian underclasser is free to go about his business so much as he obeys the laws and pays his betters the proper respect – with the understanding that should a Great House demand something of him, he is compelled to duty or death.

Education and careers

Noble Demarians receive dedicated education in the arts, literature, history, literature, and combat, with schooling broken up by leisurely activities appropriate to their station. Their final transition into adulthood is marked by the Rite of Maturity, whereupon they venture into the Sand Mother alone for the first time to prove their mettle. Should they survive, they are recognized as full adults, and are considered adequately prepared for a leadership role in society.

Public education is also available to underclassers, though it is far inferior to what children of higher birth receive and is not mandatory. Like nobles, members of the underclass study for several years until reaching maturity.

Tertiary education as many other Consortium worlds understand it does not exist on Demaria: there is no University of Alhira, or anything comparable. A young adult of underclasser birth has the option of joining a tradesman’s guild if he can afford it, otherwise his only other option is entering the military or the service of a noble House. Those who forgo these options have a long, hard road ahead of them, and little chance of success.

Demaria is not a heavily industrialized world and much of its manufactured items are imported, meaning most locally-produced goods are handmade artisan crafts. Alhiran cuisine is among the most popular in the galaxy, and skilled chefs fetch a hefty paycheck at resorts and big-ticket events on almost every major world. Those who choose to pursue the warrior tradition, or have no choice but to, can find comfortable niches as hunters, scouts, and soldiers. Academic pursuits are largely left to the priestesses, and careers in the sciences often fall by the wayside, as Demarians prefer their own legends and myths to an outsider’s way of perceiving the universe.

The Demarian Militia

Demaria maintains a standing fleet and ground forces for planetary defense, and as a member of the Consortium, flies the flag of the Vanguard. The highest echelons of command are populated almost entirely by nobles, though exceptions have been made in the rare circumstance of outstanding heroism on the part of an underclasser.

As the role of the Militia on the galactic stage is governed by the Citadel, it is not unheard of for other races to serve aboard Demarian warships – though it can and often is an awkward adjustment for all involved. These officers theoretically liaise on scientific matters, but in practice can serve almost any role.

The supreme commander of the Demarian Militia is known as the Battleclaw. Aboard starships, the rank system is as follows:

  • First Fang (Captain)
  • Second Fang (Commander)
  • Long Claw (Lt.Cmdr)
  • Short Claw (Lt.)
  • Long Tooth (LtJG)
  • Short Tooth (Ensign)

Religion

Brakir is the divine patriarch of the Demarian people: a massive sabre-toothed beast with tiger stripes and long razor-sharp claws. He is credited with crafting the world from sand and stone and speaking the suns to life with his voice. He forever prowls the night sky, hunting demons with the starry souls of the Demarian dead.

With the exception of certain ceremonial rites, Demarians do not gather and worship in organized services, believing that spirituality is a personal thing and that introspection is more useful than outward expression. Stories of Brakir and the first Demarian he acknowledged, the enigmatic First Walker, are branded into seven leather tomes called dziruun, or Seven Fires, and enumerate the philosophies of war and honor that he demands of his people. No Demarian may speak or write the direct word of Brakir, only paraphrase, save for priestesses trained to channel the holy fire with their voice in the divine art of dziri.

While not truly a deity, the Sand Mother itself is held sacred by Demarians, as it is the place from which all Demarians come and to which they all return. Its hellish sandstorms, unrelenting heat, and fearsome beasts serve as tests to prove that individuals are formidable and deserving of glory.

Faithwalkers are the only officially recognized religious order, comprised of priestesses trained from an early age to interpret the sacred texts and preside over important rites. Headquartered in the Alhiran Temple, they travel across the Sand Mother to aid distant settlements.

Rites

All Demarian nobles undergo certain rites which mark certain milestones in their lives and declare them worthy in Brakir’s eyes. They are:

  • Rite of Birth: Performed three days after a kit is born. A simple rite which consists of the priestess pressing a warm (not hot) chunk of coal into the newborn’s palm until the claws flex, blessing the natural weapons Brakir has given him.
  • Rite of Maturity: The most famous of the rites and perhaps the most significant. Transition into adulthood is marked in the adolescent’s thirteenth year, when he makes a solo sojourn into the Sand Mother to prove his worth. Should he succeed, he earns his Rite Name, a surname of his choosing. This name is formally awarded to him on his Naming Day. Underclassers also have a Naming Day, but with much less fanfare – a kit’s thirteenth year is marked with a hunt and a special party, after which he is allowed to choose his Rite Name.
  • Rite of Bonding: The traditional Demarian wedding ceremony, and the only one of the rites which the participants (that is, the two to be wed) have complete control over. While a Sand Sister must recognize the marriage in the eyes of the Great Father, this need not be done publicly, as the details of this very special day are left in the hands of the happy couple.
    Underclassers may of course get married as well, though they may do so without the inclusion of a priestess.
  • Rite of Passing: A funeral service oriented around the cremation of the recently departed, wherein memories are shared by friends and family and the soul is formally commended to the star-plain to hunt with Brakir. Demarians who do not receive a proper cremation are said to wander the Valley of Shades for all eternity. This is the only rite which is identical for both noble and underclasser.

Language

Demarese

Demarese is a language made up of growls and purrs and hisses, relying heavily on intonation and length to convey meaning.

Flick Sign Language

Flick is exactly what it sounds like – a system of nonverbal cues conveyed by the subtle and deliberate movement of one’s eyes, ears, whiskers, tails, claws, and fur. It predates Demarese for thousands of years and is the only language shared with the Theorian race, though some language drift has occurred.

Important note about understanding Flick

It is extremely difficult for non-Demarians to master a comprehension of Flick. Only the greatest of linguists have managed to do so, and those that do generally devote many years to the effort. Casually “picking up” the language beyond recognition of the simplest and most common expressions is generally frowned upon by Demarian players.

Phrases

  • Altheor’s teeth: the most famous and widely-used of Demarian expletives, used to express anything from joy to frustration to disbelief
  • The People: Demarians
  • Show your teeth: referencing one of the most recognizable Flick expressions, telling someone to show their teeth is suggesting that they act courageously
  • Shade and water: traditionally used to greet a priestess; can also be used to wish someone well
  • Star-plain: space and/or the night sky; somewhat archaic
  • Summers: years.

Naming Conventions

Altheor’s great sacrifice during the War of Opposing Suns changed the Demarian mindset so radically that from that point on, all Demarians were named for their most striking physical characteristics. Examples:

  • Silvereye
  • Snowmist
  • Grayback
  • Redtail
  • Swiftfoot

Upon reaching maturity, Demarians from all walks of life may choose a Rite Name, or a surname which reflects those skills or qualities they believe they possess. Examples:

  • Paintedheart
  • Shadowstalker
  • Nimblefoot
  • Quicksilver
  • Starchaser

Noble Demarians also have the option of adopting their family name, and most do, thereby declaring that they intend to uphold the highest of virtues of their House.

Dwellings

The trademark of Alhiran architecture is simple domed buildings artfully embellished with elaborate decoration. Stone is most often used, given the rarity of lumber, ranging from marble to sandstone to clay depending on one’s wealth.

The Great Houses are veritable palaces on considerable acreage, while the average underclasser freedman will typically occupy a small multi-family dwelling – often a three-flat, rarely more than four. When one takes into account the narrowness of the city streets and the overall cramped conditions there, underclassers are quite literally on top of one another.

Other Demarian settlements outside of the capital tend to follow similar rules, though the poorest of the desert villages have been known to settle in mud huts or hide tents.

Wardrobe

Clothing is not necessary for Demarians, though given their materialistic nature and the civilized nature of galactic society, it has become normal and even expected to wear it. Traditionally, they prefer light, airy fabrics and garments for casual wear, with silks and linens being a favorite; desert excursions often include animal hides, scarves, and ponchos with deep hoods. Jewels and precious metals of all kinds are treasured and flaunted.

Pants remain an item of contention and did not exist in Demarian society until after First Contact. Many males prefer kilts and loincloths, while women often favor dresses and sarongs – though some have learned to tolerate and even enjoy this strange outsider creation, particularly in the military where such dress is mandatory.

Technology

Alhira is not known for being a major scientific and technological hub. Their advances are largely oriented around irrigation, architecture, and agriculture, with Demarians being valued within the scientific community for their creativity in these fields.

Demarians have been slow to adopt high technology and those who lack ties to the Militia tend to prefer the “old way” of doing things – the Vanguard is the channel through which most advanced technology is acquired and much of it stays in their hands. Most consumer electronics are easily obtainable and see regular use.

Foreign Relations

Relative newcomers to the Stellar Consortium, the Demarians are only recently beginning to shift from their insular tendencies and view themselves as a component of a larger interstellar community – and some more slowly than others. Proud to a fault, they are often reluctant to share what they view as “Demarian problems” with outsiders, though they leap at the chance to prove their heroism and prowess on the galactic stage.

Sivadians and Qua are perhaps their closest friends on the Council, and are held in high esteem for their sense of honor. A strong mutual respect likewise exists between the Nall and the Demarian people, dating back to the Battle of Opposing Suns.

While not enemies per se, Mystics and Phyrrians are often distrusted, the former because of their strange and inscrutable nature, and the latter because they lack a soul.