Running the Reach
Humanoids evolved from a species of carnivores, the Duonem are a muscular and snouted species, with digitigrade legs and a short, dense fur. Their legs and hips are densely muscled and wide set to aid balance, and their limbs end in four digit appendages; their hands have a single opposable thumb.
Coloring is typically grey or dark brown, with black being uncommon and tawny red or golden being extremely rare; white isn’t impossible, but is a sign of recent inbreeding if natural. Beneath the fur their skin is a bluish-grey, and their fingers and toes end in hard nails that evolved from claws. Eye colors tend to be golden or amber, with light browns being uncommon and reddish-brown being rare; green or blue is a possibility, but is also a sign of inbreeding.
Duonem are heavily math inclined, with very few examples of pieces that other species think of as art, and had an early grasp of zero and fractional math. The structure of their snout gives them a sensitive sense of smell, and better than Terran hearing, though since developing off-world travel they’ve lost the ability to hear in ultrasound or infrasound. They high gravity of their homeworld, and by reflection their starships, gives them the capacity to carry weight much higher than would be expected of their under 2 meter frame in regular gravity.
The Duonem culture developed from a largely food-based economy, where early forms of currency represented quantum amounts of territory. What they lack in painting and poetry, they make up for in fractal designs and complicated musical compositions, though their older works have lost some of their meaning with the loss of the greater range of hearing.
Typically, Duona survive on synthetic meats, packed with additional nutrients and components that allow them to remain hardy and healthy even when out in the Reach. This is considered a necessary sacrifice, and much of Duonem expansion can be attributed to searching for more hunting grounds, and greater territory to farm their natural cattle.
Duonem currency today is largely a digital barter note referred to as a “Naki” that, on a metaphorical level, represents an amount of meat. In Duona Space the value of Naki tends to fluctuate from station to station, and is usually used as a bartering tool rather than a means of purchase. With other species, however, Naki are treated as a moderately low-value form of currency.
Duonem technology tend to be judged more by function than by appearance, a kind of interpretive aesthetic that relies on energy output and storage space over things like color or sleekness. As such, Duona tend to use ships that favor function over form, but are generally built smaller to more efficiently make use of the available space.
As for gear, favorite Duonem weapons depend on the circumstances. On a ritual hunt, they tend to wield hand weapons that duplicate their now-lost ancestral claws. In actual combat, they favor slug-thrower weapons, or low amperage plasma weapons. Armor tends to be dense, heavy, and uniform, giving an almost militaristic or strict aesthetic to it, and built to resist blades and slug weapons.
As for personal tech, Duona tend to favor small and efficient devices, with few bells and whistles. Commonly, they’d prefer more gear that does a single job effectively over a single device that does more jobs poorly. Cybernetics aren’t unheard of among the Duonem people, but is generally seen as a deformity or defect; traditional Duonem society calls for the death of anyone who cannot fend for themselves without relying on artificial things.
The Eloi are a sub-race of Humans that have been engineered to be more attractive than the typical Terran. They tend to be taller, more naturally athletic, with exotic hair and eye colors, if not skin colors. Most Eloi are vat-grown, allowing them or their parents to have been specially ordered. There are no hair, eye, or skin colors that are unheard of, nor any more common than the others.
“Free” Eloi, which refers to Eloi conceived biologically, are increasing in frequency as the years press on. As they have no truly cultural history, they tend to cobble together elements from cultures and societies that they encounter, keeping that which strikes a chord in them and discarding the rest.
Eloi are adopters, not developers, of technology. As such, they do not have their own style of devices or gear, but rather tend to be marked by a cobbling of various cultures technological advices, piecemealed as they found them.
Another vat-grown Terran sub-race, the Jovians were created to do the heavy work during the last stages of Terraforming. As such, they are more densely muscled and more stout of build than Terrans. They almost uniformly have a lower capacity for creative thinking or language, but are excellent at following directions and performing rote actions. Strong, but dim-witted, the Jovians tend to be pale or tan skinned, with no hair anywhere on their body, and dark brown or blue eyes.
Like the Eloi, Jovians have no central culture or history. However, unlike the Eloi, the Jovian’s built-in mental handicaps make them poor adopters of culture. As such, Jovians living away from their progenitors tend to live simple and ascetic lives.
Able to use technology, but largely not competent enough to develop it, Jovians are adopters similar to the Eloi. However, Jovians uniformly use technology that is the simplest of its kind that they have access to, that performs the functions they need.
Kovale are a species of mammalian arthropods, their bodies supported by a cartilaginous internal exo-skeleton, coated in a intricate lattice of finely balanced chitin segments, almost giving the impression of black or dark-brown scales. Very rarely, they will exhibit red coloring, while they uniformly have a golden-green sheen to their high-set eyes. Their mouths are hominidal in shape, but have two additional joints in the upper jaw that support their herbivorous diet.
The basic structure of the Kovale is vaguely hominid, except the lower legs split into two segments each ending in two digitigrade toes, while their arms have a second elbow each, and end in five-fingered hands with two opposable thumbs. Flexible and agile, they lack a great deal in physical strength due to their lack of internal hardened structure.
For diet, the Kovale salivate a thin secretion that breaks down plant matter quickly, converting much of the organic material into sugar, which forms the basis of the Kovale’s diet. Living among Terrans and other species, many Kovale indulge themselves in eating sugar cubes or thickly sugared water.
The Kovale are citizens of the Othraki Diaspora, their homeworlds burned in the Othraki Conflict. With the loss of these worlds, they Kovale banded together with the Xylia to survive in universe that appeared before them. Much of their culture is unchanged from before the Othraki’s arrival.
The core of Kovale culture is the “Unvari,” which translates into Terran into roughly “the Unbroken Flame.” It is the foundation of their religion, which they have carried into the stars with them, and essentially teaches that fire is the one element that can never be truly controlled. As such, the Kovale interpret fire or flame to mean spirit, and see powered structures and devices as carrying this spirit inside of them, and as such deserving of great respect.
Kovale place a great deal of weight on art and inspiration, with a particular respect given to those who can create or repair machinery, especially interstellar or trans-light technology. They favor pyrotechnics and physical displays, such as dance and acrobatics, to musical performances.
Kovale technology was just beginning to reach for the stars when the Othraki arrived. During the ensuing conflict, Xylia and Othraki vessels crashed into their planet, giving them access to the technology and science of both races. From these they developed their own starships, and as time passed on, began to rely more on Zero-G training over artificial gravity, their ships being smooth and egg or teardrop shaped on the outside, but structured like an ant-hill inside.
Kovale weapons tend to be modified energy weapons, either high-density light projectors or high amperage plasma throwers. In melee, Kovale tend to prefer bladed or electrified whips, and overall enjoy high amperage plasma grenades. Personal technology tends to be modified from whatever it started as, most having personalized it to the point where it is nearly unrecognizable from it’s original form.
A point of contention that arises in the Diaspora on the note of Technology is the emphasis Xylia place on electro-magnetic and grav-well weapons. As the Kovale consider the power inside devices to be their spirit, disabling technology in this fashion is often seen as heretical, as it is torture for the trapped spirit.
Terran is the “space people” term for Humans, as their origins are the planet Earth (Terra Prime). They fall into the same ethnographic structures as modern-day humans, though average height is 5% to 10% higher.
Terran culture has been almost wholly subsumed in the either the Terra Prime Covenant, or the Tiān Hòu Corporate Group. The TPC is a combination of political groups such as the EU and the UN, with a secular organization formerly of the Catholic Church, creating a kind of quasi-religion or moral and ethical laws, and allowing for indulgences.
The Tiān Hòu Corporate Group, on the other hand, is a coalition of over 100 corporations with interstellar or interplanetary interests, under the umbrella protection of the Chinese government. While not directly adversarial with the TPC, much of its police force is mercenary or criminal syndicates given allowance to enforce laws.
For currency, Terran space tends to rely on a system of Credits which is a kind of corporate backed promissory unit. Since it is backed by the corporations, their stock prices have a heavy effect on the value in the interstellar exchange.
In the Reach, Terrans have begun a form of trade based largely on gold, platinum, and iridium, in coins for small transactions and bars for larger ones. More powerful organizations will mark their bars or coins with logos or emblems, but this is not universal. These coins have no specific value in the interstellar exchange banks, but rather represent useful and valuable resources that can be sold.
Terran technology was developed from their own interplanetary systems, that allowed them to colonize most of the available worlds in their home system. The catalyst of interstellar travel was a disabled Othraki cruiser crashing into Ganymede. In the impact, 85% of the arcologies were disabled or destroyed, but the survivors managed to get in touch with the unifying governing body of the time, and they reverse engineered the ship’s engines and drives in about one hundred years.
For weapons and armor, Terrans tend to focus on slug throwers and low-amperage plasma throwers, and pi-laminated armors.
The Xylia are an anomaly even among the species listed here. A form of amorphous organism, with no specific shape of its own, they obtain most of their nutrients from a form of photosynthesis, utilizing gamma radiation rather than sunlight. It causes them to metabolize base nutrients into other vitamins it requires to survive.
Outside of any containment suit and in person, a Xylum appears as a kind of mossy mass of phlegm, roughly 16 to 20 gallons in volume. While being able to move along the ground and inclined surfaces, they cannot form complex shapes or manipulate instruments on their own.
Because of this, Xylia invariably adopt a containment suit, pressing themselves tightly into it in order to move it, using the constriction and flexion they use in their normal locomotion to move the suit in a manner similar to hominid movement. Outside of their home environs, their suits tend to have minor gamma emitters, as well as a nutrient paste they live on that satisfies the nutrient needs of their bodies when no gamma light is available.
Originally a product race of the Othraki, Xylia were the byproduct of the genetic and radioactive experiments that the Othraki performed on themselves. Since breaking away, the Xylia have a kind of zeal for life and a often genuinely good natured way to them. They adopt other culture’s mannerisms and adapt them to their own, especially music and performing arts.
As their natural means of communication is a rumbling ultrasound and pheromone discharge, much of Xylia art is utterly indescribable to, or by, other species. Beyond that, they are native adopters, and relish learning new forms of artistic communication.
True native adopters, the Xylia consume new technology and repurpose it as their own. As such, their spaceships tend to be artistic or aesthetically “strange” style-wise, while also encompassing technologies from various different groups; often incorporating Othraki technology as the basis.
For weapons, the Xylia prefer electo-magnetic and grav-well powers, focusing more on disabling or negating opponent technology without destroying it, while grav-well and gamma weapons will kill many opponent without damaging their armor, or potential containment suits, terribly.
This focus on disabling the power or systems of technology rather than destroying it has brought a schism in the Othraki Diaspora, between the Xylia and the Kovale, as the Xylia’s lack of religion or spiritual history renders them near-incapable of understanding the other species’ concerns.