People and Places – Astra Nullius

Gone Before, Part 1 - Astra Nullius

The Crew of the Benevolence

Nyx Dysart

Job: Captain

Age: 43

Birthplace: Uchronia City, Mars

History: Nyx left home to train for the Coalition command team as soon as she could. She worked her way up the ranks on the Eloquence and the Assimilation before being made captain of the Benevolence.The Benevolence was sent on a five year mission beyond the edges of known space, exploring a region that had never before been contacted by the Coalition. While Captain Dysart performed her duties admirably, she was beyond the reach of the Coalition’s ability to contact the ship, and did not realize that the organization had fallen until the Benevolence returned after the completion of its mission. On her return to known space, the Benevolence accidentally intervened in a skirmish; the nose cone containing the bridge and command center was separated from the crew quarters, leaving Nyx and a few members of her command team stranded. Despite her separation from most of her crew and the failure of the Coalition, Captain Dysart still believes in the dream of a unified galaxy working together in harmony. Although by nature she’s a lover, not a fighter, keeping what remains of her crew together has required her to made some tough decisions.

Appearance: Nyx is well-preserved for her age, and doesn’t turn her nose up at the occasional cosmetic procedure. Her olive skin is usually on the pale side, since she spends so much time in the confines of her ship. Her hair is dyed dark brown and usually cut to shoulder length. She usually prefers to wear her old command uniform, sometimes incongruously paired with a leather jacket and pistol holster.

 

Xrrt

Job: Executive officer/head of security

Age: Approximately 53 Earth years, 13 separated from her hive

Birthplace: Hive on Proxima Centauri b

History: Xrrt was chosen by her hive to serve the coalition as a member of the security team. While Centaurians are usually connected to other members of their hive via telepathic link, the distance of space travel has severed Xrrt’s attachment to her sisters. Xrrt is a worker of her species; she has no functional sex organs, but a strong maternal instinct. All sentient members of her species identify as female, while drones are non-sentient; Xrrt often has trouble understanding the nuances of human gender and sexuality. In the absence of other members of her own species, Xrrt’s inherent protectiveness is redirected towards the crew of the Benevolence. Despite her fearsome claws, massive mandibles, and ability to spit acid at will, she’s a total cuddlebug.

Appearance: Centaurians have eight legs: two forelimbs and six hind limbs. They have large primary mandibles and smaller sub-mandibles. Their bodies come in three segments: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen, all covered in sleek chitin. Xrrt’s chitin is mostly brown with a subtle green iridescence.

 

Sera

Job: Pilot/mechanic

Age: 28

Birthplace: Unknown

History: Sera has told the crew that she was a Coalition pilot on the Integrity. No one has gotten the story of what happened after that out of her, but the crew assumes it has something to do with the burn scars on her face and body. Sera is no stranger to the seedy underbelly of the galaxy, and has connections to dozens of black market dealers, information brokers, chop shop owners, and other shady characters. She makes good use of her stable of fake identities; no one’s been able to figure out her real name or get more than a hint of her life story. While Sera occasionally shows a fierce loyalty to individuals, she doesn’t believe in wasting her energy working for the greater good. Her morals are usually up for sale, but now and then she’ll refuse a job out of principle.

Appearance: Sera is 5’4” and slender. Her skin is light brown. She has burn scars on the left side of her jaw and on her body, predominantly on the left side. She keeps her haircut asymmetric and dyes her hair frequently; she claims that this disrupts facial recognition software. She usually wears a cargo vest over a tank top and jeans.

(Art by Pukaon)

 

Jianyu

Job: Navigator

Age: 31

Birthplace: Hatchery on planetoid Tsukuyomi B

History: Jianyu was a junior member of the Benevolence’s navigation team before tragedy struck. Like Captain Dysart, he still believes wholeheartedly in the ideals the Coalition stood for. His devotion to galactic harmony is partly philosophical, but also partly personal: Jianyu is half human and half Eridani, and he’s afraid that inter-species aggression will leave his family with no safe place to call home. Jianyu’s selfless devotion to the greater good often comes at the expense of his own health and happiness. His determination to keep the Benevolence flying as its sole navigation officer is taking a toll on his neural tissue.

Appearance: Jianyu is seven feet tall. He inherited his black hair from his mother and his light green skin from his father. He keeps his appearance neat and his hair short. When he’s not wearing his Coalition uniform, he prefers t-shirts and dark trousers. Dressing nicely is a challenge since few tailors carry inter-species sizes. He has a neural port on his right temple.

 

Weyland

Job: Doctor/cook

Age: Unknown

Birthplace: Unknown

History: A genetic engineer by training, Weyland serves dual functions as the ship’s doctor and the caretaker of its vats of edible meat and algae. His bedside manner and his cooking skills both leave something to be desired. Weyland doesn’t talk about his past–period. All the crew knows is that he was never trained by the Coalition, and he sometimes expresses curiosity about what it was like to serve. Weyland’s favorite hobby is watching ancient two-dimensional movies. He sometimes receives encrypted messages from an unknown source. No one knows whether he has friends or family out there in the galaxy.

Appearance: Weyland is very short and skinny, which makes him look young. His skin is dark brown. He doesn’t pay much attention to his hair, just saves it whenever it gets long enough to be annoying. His clothing is usually oversized castoffs.

 

Species in the Coalition

Humans

(This species has many names for itself in many different languages)

Origin: Star system Sol

Description: A bipedal species with two arms, two legs, and a fairly short lifespan of only 100 to 300 years (with extensive use of modern medicinal technology to extend their natural lifespan, which is often less than 100 years). Humans are covered by a mostly dry skin that ranges from pale pink to dark brown. They are omnivorous and will devour a large variety of flora and fauna; although they have a strong revulsion of certain forms of decomposition, they often use bacteria to produce fermented products which they consider delicacies. They also use bacteria within their own digestive tracts to break down foods that they cannot digest themselves.

The majority are fall into two biological sexes, which sometimes match their genders. Their young are first gestated internally, and then spend upwards of a decade maturing outside the womb; it is far more convenient for them to use artificial wombs than to reproduce with conventional biological methods. Most humans seem to enjoy the activity of attempting reproduction even when no offspring are produced.

Death ritual: Humans have a large variety of death rituals, but most prefer burial or cremation. They often express distaste for cannibalism, despite the clear efficiencies this burial method presents.

Natural enemy: Despite their short stature and fairly weak muscles, humans seem capable of making just about any species their enemy. They are even known to go to war with other factions within the human species. While some disagreements are settled with an exchange of blows or the drawing of blood, it is not uncommon for humans to fight to the death. It is strange that a species with such a dangerous and inefficient method of reproduction would be willing to further deplete its ranks through violence.

Centaurians

(Actual name unpronounceable by other species)

Origin: Star system Proxima Centauri

Description: An eight-limbed, insectoid species with superhuman strength, a chitinous exoskeleton, multiple sets of claws, and the ability to spit acid.

Most are infertile workers, with a weak telepathic connection to their hive; excessive distance can break this connection, making space-faring Centaurians the first true individuals of their species. They have difficulty understanding human concepts of sex and gender; only rare queens are fertile, and drones are not sentient. Because of their history of dependence on the hive for survival, space-faring Centaurians may begin to treat crew members of other species like fellow hive workers or even queens–or, if they are significantly younger and in need of protection, like larvae.

Centaurians can understand the speech of other species, but require translators to turn their range of vocalizations and phenomenal emissions into a form of speech that others can understand. The name humans use for them is not what they call themselves.The Centaurian multi-faceted eye can see wavelengths well into the infrared and ultraviolet ends of the spectrum, and Centaurian language relies on a complex combination of sounds made with every part of the body, pheromonal secretions, and telepathic connection. Centaurian art and music are heartbreakingly beautiful and completely untranslatable.

Death ritual: consumed as food to further the interests of the hive.

Natural enemy: Despite their fearsome appearance, the Centaurians are an inherently peaceful and law-abiding species. They can get edgy around Minervans, since the species once had a run-in with a similar parasitic fungus. They tend to view smaller species without protective exoskeletons as maggots in need of protection.

Minervans

(This species does not have a single name for itself; Minervan is one of dozens of names they have taken)

Origin: Minervans do not keep accounts of their history as a species. They are believed to have originated in the Gliese 832 system.

Description: A sentient parasitic fungus that can take over host bodies of other species. They take on some aspects of the host bodies they choose and use a variety of cultural references to describe themselves; humans refer to them as Minervans after the story of Minerva emerging from Jove’s head.

Despite their horrifying method of survival, the Minervans are a largely peaceful race, and are happy to restrict themselves to residing within the bodies of the brain dead, willing donors, and non-sentient species. Host bodies are distinguished by a small, delicate lump at the base of the skull where the cap of the fungus is visible beneath the skin or chitin.

Even the Minervans themselves are not entirely sure whether any trace of the host’s original personality remains; many become fascinated by the culture or past life of their host and consciously or subconsciously attempt to emulate the life they would have wanted to live. Because of this, Minervans often express confusion about their own species, and wish to be included in the culture of their host body. This creates a great deal of political confusion; Minervans don’t tend to be good advocates for their own interests, because they don’t think of themselves as a unified species with common interests.

Death ritual: the Minervan usually chooses to perish with its host, although it can be transferred into another body.

Natural enemy: The Minervans have no innate antagonism with any other species; in fact, they tend not to think of themselves as a unique species. They share no language or culture, and never quite got the hang of defending their borders or claiming territory. Falacerians tend to be edgy around them, since their natural telepathic ability does not work on fungi. Centaurians are often unpleasantly reminded of a parasitic species of fungus that plagued them, while humans are disquieted by similarities to brain-controlling slugs and similar monsters.

Falacerians

(This species has several names for itself, but keeps them secret.)

Description: The Falacerians have survived by showing other species exactly what they want them to see with their telepathic powers. To humans, they appear as preternaturally beautiful. They lack an inherent sense of empathy, but can acquire it through sustained telepathic contact with other species, making them extremely dangerous in single-species groups but manageable in mixed-species groups. Some scholars believe that legends of capricious fairies, demons, and even gods can be attributed to visits throughout human history by the Falacerians. Their telepathy works only at close range; they show up in digital images as they really are. While they look beautiful to people they want to seduce, they can also use their power to show up as hideous to people they want to repulse.

Death ritual: Returning to the earth, preferably through burial.

Natural enemy: Everything is the enemy of a bored Falacerian. While they mess with other species indiscriminately, they reserve a particular distrust for Minervans, who are impervious to their telepathic powers.

Eridani

(This species has several names for itself. Transliterations cannot capture the full range of vocalizations)

Origin: Star system Epsilon Eridani

Description: The Eridanii are an amphibious species. Their skin is a variety of shades of green and they are much larger than humans, usually between 7 and 9 feet tall, but their physiology, psychology, and appearance is closest to humanoid out of all the other members of the coalition. They can cross-breed with humans, although in order to produce a viable embryo, they must reproduce via in-vitro fertilization and make use of an external artificial womb.

They generally stick to the same interpretations of gender, sex, and sexuality as humans, although transgender individuals of this species actually are capable of switching their biological sex.

Death ritual: Returning to the water.

Gone Before, Part 1 - Astra Nullius

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