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SME Aliens: A Spotter's Guide

!R/VRRLL (Khr'vorll: Ancient Pseudo-Hivemind Biomancers)
Source: SME Universe
Homeworld: !/!/! (! is a velar plosive and / is a glottal fricative -- neither of which can be pronounced by human vocal organs.)
Biology: Carbon-based, DNA; levorotary proteins, dextrorotary sugars.
Reproduction: Hermaphroditic egg-layers
Naming Conventions: Nigh-unpronounceable, filled with clicks, glottal stops, chitinous rappings, etc.
Average Lifespan: 140 E-years
Appearance: Insectoid, with endo- and exoskeletons. Praying-mantis/ grasshopper build, low to the ground. Ten limbs: six legs, four arms. Upper arms are delicate, fine manipulators; lower are extremely strong, heavy lifters. Three 'fingers' and one 'thumb' per hand, thumb located in the lower center of the 'palm'. Three eyes, not compound but more like a squid's, on retractable stalks. Two antennae, moth-style. Herbivorous, but their mandibles look pretty nasty. Typically bone-white, streaked with bright orange, and liberally covered with 8" spines, rather like a lionfish. Around 4' tall, 5' wide and long. A khr'vorll in a sailor fuku is generally agreed to be one of the most absurd sights in the galaxy.
Strengths: Advanced biological knowledge, total unity of purpose, high power in deep space, old and widespread
Weaknesses: Cannot easily keep secrets, highly predictable
Political Divisions: None worth mentioning--nearly all khr'vorll are part of the Consensus. A few rogues may be found elsewhere.
Alliances: Most of the Shards of Kyria rely on khr'vorll trade for their continued survival (see below).

OVERVIEW:

The !r/vrrll (or, as most humanoid species pronounce it, khr'vorll) represent the oldest surviving civilization in the known galaxy. There have certainly been many older species, some of which are even still around, but no one else can boast a culture dating back twenty thousand years without interruption. They have weathered catastrophes both natural and Silence-spawned over and over again, and always calmly rebuild.

This is largely due to the almost incomprehensibly monolithic nature of khr'vorll society. Casual observers tend to assume an insectlike hive mind drives them, some telepathic royal caste directing every aspect of their lives. The truth is only slightly less fantastic: in fact, the brains, minds, and souls of nearly every khr'vorll ever hatched are functionally identical. Take any two of them, put them in identical situations, and give them broadly the same information, and they will react in utterly identical fashion. Only when one khr'vorll's body of knowledge differs substantially from another's will you see anything like a new approach.

This is not to say that they're uncreative. It's just that they are all creative in exactly the same way, and if one khr'vorll has a revolutionary new idea you can be absolutely certain that, throughout their territory, thousands if not millions of others in similar circumstances are entertaining identical thoughts or will be soon. Khr'vorll do not have or need any kind of "government"--they have the Consensus.

War is unknown among the khr'vorll, since every one of them agrees about everything; in the rare event two of them do not, their immediate reaction is to exchange knowledge about the disagreed-upon topic until one or both has enough data to reevaluate the situation. Much of khr'vorll civilization revolves around the ceaseless dissemination of news and information to every corner of their dominions, that the Consensus may be maintained.

The Consensus realized, early on in its spacefaring existence, that this utter singularity of viewpoint could be a hindrance when dealing with the chaotic, individualistic hominid types. Therefore, khr'vorll biomancers carefully inserted an extremely recessive gene-complex into their own genetic material, one of the few permanent modifications they have ever made to themselves. As a result, approximately one in a hundred million khr'vorll are "rogue", born with individuality, forever outside the Consensus. The rogues function primarily as advisors and middlemen between aliens and khr'vorll, understanding both yet truly at home with neither. Most of them profess far more kinship with hominids than their own kind, and a few have so little in common with their species that they must either leave or go mad with boredom. A scant handful have decided that the Consensus itself must be changed or destroyed, and caused a fair amount of damage; the worst of these was the Death Phantom, who managed to transform itself into a full-fledged demon lord and converted an entire colony world to its worship before it was banished. As a mitigating factor, rogues never breed true--their offspring are always "normal".

A Consensus drone (as the rogues refer to their kin) is diligent, curious, alert, and has no concept of personal space. Khr'vorll seem unemotional, but this is more due to their alien mindset than any lack of passions. Change comes slowly to the khr'vorll--while eager to learn about the new and different, putting it into practice is something else entirely--though once an idea is embraced, it spreads throughout the Consensus almost immediately. The Consensus has learned that other species regard information as a valuable commodity, rather than something that must be exchanged freely, but thousands of years of instinct sometimes override good sense, and rogues must occasionally prevent drones from telling the nice humanoid all about the exciting new developments in biomagical weaponry.

Preservation of the species and the Consensus is the basic khr'vorll drive; fortunately they realize that trying to exterminate or assimilate everyone else would be counterproductive.

Like nearly all starfaring species, khr'vorll have almost completely ignored the physical sciences in favor of magic. Their particular forte is biomancy, the mystic equivalent of biotech--most of their tools, vehicles, and even buildings are genetically engineered living creatures. Khr'vorll regard all nonsapient life as potential tools, and the ecosystem of their homeworld has long since been transformed beyond recognition; most colony worlds are likewise tamed, which practice has earned the ire of many environmental activist groups. Their starships are vast, weirdly mutated creatures (think Johji Manabe) bred to generate huge quantities of mana, giving khr'vorll a tremendous advantage in interstellar travel and warfare--most other species must rely on batteries of various kinds to power their spells in deep space. Khr'vorll modify themselves only slightly, and almost never permanently, for fear of breaking the Consensus; if going into battle, for example, warriors may cause their spines to secrete substances toxic to their opponents' biochemistries.

Total command of ecosystems allows the khr'vorll worlds to support almost unthinkably immense populations; at a conservative estimate, the homeworld alone hosts nineteen billion, over half of whom live and work in PrimeHive--among the largest cities, in fact the largest artificial structures, known to exist outside Sol System (if you count a network of interlocked genetically altered organisms as artificial).

The Death Phantom's False Consensus dates back sixteen thousand years, to a time when biomancy was in its infancy; Shaizaar was a partly- terraformed colony world, originally a lifeless rock until the Consensus hit it with a few large ice asteroids and imported a mix of life-forms from the homeworld and three or four others. Very little of the lone continent's surface had been broken down into soil by the time it was taken over and subsequently converted into an extradimensional prison; things hadn't improved much by the time the Arcadians arrived.

Khr'vorll worlds' primary exports include tailored biological substances, medical magic, and limited genetic enhancements for those species crazy enough to want them.


!/!/! : The Khr'vorll Homeworld: Physical Data
(Written with the aid of the MegaTraveller World Builder's Handbook,published by GDW)
Name: !/!/!
Star type: G0V
Mass: 1.04 Sol
Luminosity: 1.05 Sol... in other words, a main sequence yellow sun slightly larger and brighter than our own (a G2V).
!/!/! Diameter: 7897 miles/12,365 km
!/!/! Density: .92 E
!/!/! Mass: .91 E
!/!/!/ Surface Gravity: .93g
!/!/! Year: 358.16 E-days; 286.15 local
Day: 30 hrs 2 min 24 sec
Axial Tilt: 18 deg 48' 6.5"
Surface Atmospheric Pressue: 1.3 At
Base Mean Surface Temperature: 320 deg Kelvin (47 Celsius)
Hydrographic Percentage: 59%

Planetary Overview

!/!/! is the third planet from its sun, approximately 1 AU out, in the only reasonable position to support carbonform life around a main-sequence yellow star in the absence of major magical influence. It is slightly less dense than Earth, but has a thicker atmosphere and a much hotter, muggier climate. The equator is typically 76 degrees Celsius in summer, and never colder than 53 degrees; small polar icecaps do form in winter but melt entirely come springtime. Land area is divided among ten continents, eight large islands, and twelve island chains.

The planet is home to 19,400,000,000 khr'vorll, most of whom live in gigantic hive-cities; the surface is largely devoted to farms and factory complexes. The largest city, PrimeHive, is built on a large equatorial island and houses over eleven billion drones; the hive towers into the upper atmosphere, topped by a complex of spaceports.

There are three moons, the largest over half !/!/!'s diameter, resulting in intense tidal activity and geological stress. The inner two have molten cores, the outer is little more than a captured asteroid.

!/IR^% (Moon Alpha)
Orbit: 247,300 km
Diameter: 4112 miles/6579 km
Density: .94 E
Mass: .13 E
Gravity: .49g
Orbital Period: 14.36 E-days
!/RR%! (Moon Beta)
Orbit: 383,315 km
Diameter: 1900 miles/3040 km
Density: 1.12 E
Mass: .015 E
Gravity: .27 E
Orbital Period: 27.7 E-days
!/RSSH/ (Moon Gamma)
Orbit: 618,250 km
Diameter: 845 miles, 1352 km
Density: .52 E
Mass: .0006 E
Gravity: .05 E
Orbital Period: 56.75 E-days



Kyriani ( Fiore's People: Nomadic Swashbuckling Architects )
Source: Sailor Moon R Movie
Homeworld: Kyria (destroyed)
Biology: Carbon-based, DNA; dextrorotary proteins, levorotary sugars.
Reproduction: Mammalian standard
Naming Conventions: 2-4 syllables, lots of diphthongs and soft consonants, no particular meanings (Shialla, Weirian, Zyffonio, &c.)
Average Lifespan: 200 E-years
Appearance: Green-skinned, pastel-haired elves (as if you didn't know that already)
Strengths: Highly mobile, highly motivated
Weaknesses: Atypical biology, easily distracted by shiny objects, effectively limited to one world's worth of planetary guardians
Political Divisions: Too many to go into. Each Shard has some form of multinational overgovernment, but these bodies can rarely accomplish anything beyond settling on a new destination.
Alliances: Most Kyrian nations are at least loosely allied with the Khr'vorll Consensus, but that doesn't preclude internal bickering.

OVERVIEW:

Kyriani are mammalian humanoids, with only a couple of quirks distinguishing them from dozens of other species. Their blood cells are copper-based, accounting for their green to bluish skin tones; more importantly, Kyrian life is based on mirror-images of the chemicals that make up all other known carbonforms--right-handed DNA and amino acids, left-handed sugars, etc. This is the cause of Fioreail's inability to survive on Earth for long; the atmosphere is no problem, but kyriani are incapable of digesting conventional left-chirality organics and would quickly starve on alien worlds.

Kyriani evolved from plains-dwelling apes with elaborate courtship behavior, much like Earth's bower birds; the males build elaborate structures, decorating them with any interesting objects they can find, in hopes of attracting female attention. In a twist on the Earthly version, once a mate is found, both will work together to improve the bower, bonding more strongly in the process.

As sapience set in, the bower's importance in courtship receded--but kyriani were left with a deep instinctual love for building and aesthetics. Their artistic inclinations became more refined but no less obsessive; many kyriani spend their lives in search of objects of perfect beauty, or in attempts to create unique and unforgettable works of art-- architecture remains their first love, but anything from an oil painting to a psiprint to an epic poem in limericks will do. The production or acquisition of works of art is considered second only to the pursuit of love in all kyrian cultures.

Kyrian culture is extremely, one might even say wildly, diverse, but for general purposes think of them in terms of the French Romantic period (the works of Dumas and Sabatini, or for that matter Brust, are useful references): court intrigue, affairs d'amour, and swashbuckling adventure are the order of the day. Life, the old kyrian proverb goes, is too short to waste on mere survival; if it can't be done with style and panache it probably isn't worth doing. No kyrian war was ever started over something as petty as territory or resources; if it doesn't involve love or art, it isn't worth fighting over!

The Silence's strike at Kyria was far from subtle: in the sixteenth century CE, kyrian astronomers discovered a Moon-sized rogue planet heading straight for them. They had five years to come up with a solution; all grudges were put aside, wars and feuds abandoned, as survival of the species became paramount. The preservation of as much of Kyria as possible was called for; why bother living with all that beauty lost forever?

Destroying or diverting the worldkiller was judged impossible, as was phase-shifting their entire planet, teleporting it away, and a host of other ideas. Finally, they came up with a last desperate (yet artistic) plan: Wizards gathered at Kyria's nineteen major mana wells, combining elemental magic in immense quantities to dig vast divots out of their world and weave into them spells of structural stability, atmosphere-retention, and flight. Nineteen Shard Arks drifted free of the doomed planet, each a spacegoing continent thousands of miles across: gigantic biospheres, rigged for interstellar travel.

The Shard wells still draw power, somehow, from the lifeless cluster of asteroids that were once Kyria and the deathworld; planetary mana levels allow the Shards to shift into hyperspace-1 with ease, guided somewhat haphazardly by councils of mages selected from the nations on each. While the Shards were initially conceived of as colonization ships, diligent exploration found no worlds that could support Kyrian biology; they have long since grown used to the wandering life, orbiting a given star until it becomes boring and then roaming the galaxy on the endless search for beauty and adventure. There are currently (~3100 AD) some two hundred thirty-seven Shard Arks; some have been destroyed over the centuries through accident or war, but more are periodically created from the rubble of Kyria and seeded from Arks whose population has grown too great. Every thirty-five Earth years, a Convocation of Shards is called to exchange tales and show off new acquisitions, and--not incidentally--to renew the Shards' genetic diversity, animal, plant, or kyriani.

Kyrian magical knowledge and research is concentrated mainly on keeping the Arks functional and mobile. The sheer size and great mana output of the Shards makes hyperspace-one, too magic-intensive for most races to even consider, the only feasible means of transportation; they can manage around fifty times lightspeed. Conventional lightship fleets are also maintained for trade and long-range exploration. Kyria's communication systems are among the most advanced in the galaxy, instantaneous and reliable across thousands of light-years, a necessity to coordinate the Convocations of their wandering race.

The Shards' planetary mana ensures that there will be a planetary guardian born in each generation. As no other worlds have ever been settled, Sailor Kyria is the only Senshi the species produces.

Modern kyrian culture, as ever, is not remotely homogenous, even on individual Shards. Ethnically, culturally, and politically as diverse as Terrans, kyriani have at least thirty different languages and three times as many religious systems; most Shards are divided up among several small nations, governments ranging from divine-right monarchies to Jeffersonian democracies. The only quality never found in kyrian society is boredom.

Kyriani have no spare natural resources to trade, but their architectural and artistic talents are in high demand across known space. Much of their trade goes to the Consensus, as khr'vorll biomancy can produce vast quantities of kyrian-digestible nutrients with ease; fortunately, the Consensus does appreciate art...but its tastes are several centuries out of date and not likely ever to change, which annoys kyriani to no end.

Fiore is believed to have been an orphan, the sole survivor of a lost exploration lightship (most likely the *Zyrellios*, last heard from in 1965).

RECOMMENDED READING:

Alexander Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Viscount of Bragelonne, The Man in the Iron Mask
Steven Brust - The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After
Rafael Sabatini - Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk


The Makauji MAKAIJUJIN : The Treefolk Ali & Ann
Ail & An's Descendants: Tree-Hugging Symbiotic Explorers
Source: Sailor Moon R
Homeworld: Thalassa (abandoned)
Biology: Carbon-based, DNA; levorotary proteins, dextrorotary sugars
Reproduction: Mammalian standard or creation by a Makaiju
Naming Conventions: Single-syllable names; any grouping will have names that can (by utter coincidence) be arranged into some vaguely appropriate English or Japanese word (Gu and Rey; Bee, Gee, and Em; Vul and Kan; etc.). Family names are of Japanese or Kyrian origin.
Average Lifespan: Naturally immortal
Appearance: Yet more green-skinned pastel-haired elves...
Strengths: Highly mobile, can raise large armies of cardians on short notice, few physical needs, strong innate powers
Weaknesses: Symbiotically bound to Makaiju, very few in number
Political Divisions: Each Makaiju is a community of its own; the first Tree and the Ginga Clan are sufficiently respected by the others that they could probably unite the whole species if necessary
Alliances: To be determined.

OVERVIEW:

The Makaijujin are, in essence, plant-based imitations of kyriani, created by an extremely lonely treelike alien.

Sometime around 1850 CE a kyrian exploration lightship with a malfunctioning hypercommunication system discovered a waterworld the crew dubbed Thalassa, not unusual save for a single island occupied by a giant tree--the only one of its kind. In the course of their investigations, a psionic crewmember discovered that the tree had a mind--a fully sapient mind at that.

The Makaiju was nearly overwhelmed at first contact, having never known that any other intelligent beings existed; it adjusted well, though, growing ever more curious about the greater universe the kyriani described. The explorers, running low on supplies, left vowing to return and speak with their new friend again...but never did. Later research shows that the ship in question is recorded as lost without trace, another victim of the nameless perils of deep space.

The Tree's Children

The great tree waited a long time, patient as only a plant can be, but its new-grown capacity for loneliness finally drove it to desperation. Its tiny island could not support another of its kind, so the Makaiju turned its powers toward the creation of beings in the image of its friends. Some years of magical experimentation later, the Tree learned to modify its own genetic structure and gave itself a reproductive system that could create near-duplicate kyriani: the Tree's Children.

The first makaijujin were born full-grown, in rapport with their parent and speaking the tongue of Kyria. The island was never large enough to hold many of them, but unlike their templates, the Makaiju's children needed little physical nutrition; they drew psychic energy from their creator, and nourished it in turn with their companionship and love. It was a perfect closed system, possible only under the laws of magic, and over time the Tree ceased to rely on any outside energy source.

Orphans

Even the Makaiju itself is not certain what went wrong, as much of its early memory has been lost. Whether the corruption came from within, or was imported by some agent of the Silence, we cannot know; but within fifty years of their creation, the makaijujin were at war. And by the late twentieth century, all but a handful were dead.

Hardly able to comprehend the darkness that had swept over it, the Makaiju could not be sure that it would not happen again--and all it could think of was to find other humanoids who might understand and teach it and its children to live in peace. Gathering the last of its strength, the Tree used most of its remaining power to bioengineer lightsailing capability into itself and left Thalassa in search of answers. It found them, finally, on Earth...but by that time all but two of the makaijujin were dead, and the Tree itself weakened almost unto death, and its warped children's conduct did little to help matters. But that story has already been told...

Since the redemption of Ail and An in 1993, the Makaiju has returned to its full growth--and, after discovery of a few Earthlike worlds, has begun reproducing itself as well as its children. There are now at least three thousand Trees, each with its own community of makaijujin, spread across local space.

Makaijujin are an odd lot; the youngest sapient race around, they have yet to forge much of a racial or cultural identity. They are possessed of a good deal of curiosity and wanderlust; beyond that, though, they seem content to observe and imitate whoever they happen to be near. They have little industry per se, as they have no need for food or shelter; most manual labor is done by Cardian constructs under their direction. Makaijujin language is a pidgin based on a Kyrian dialect (a fragment of which may be heard early on in SMR) and Japanese, with frequent borrowings from other tongues.

Makaijujin society is fairly simple; the Trees are nominally in charge, but seldom press the point. Most communities are sufficiently small that any major decisions can be made by a committee-of-the-whole.

Makaijujin occupy a unique evolutionary niche, being essentially plants that mimic every function of mammalian humanoid animals. They subsist primarily on the symbiotic exchange of energy with a Makaiju, needing only sunlight and water otherwise; they can teleport over planetary distances but seldom go far from their Tree. Each Tree can support a maximum of around three hundred Children, whether its own creations, another's, or their conventionally-born descendants; as the Trees themselves reproduce but rarely, population controls are of necessity strict. All Makaiju are capable of interstitial starflight, and being eager for new experiences often travel--carrying their entire communities with them.

All makaijujin possess the innate powers displayed by Ail and An, including long-range teleportation and warpgate creation, levitation, energy blasts, cardian crafting, glamourcasting, and anything else I can't remember offhand. :) They can, and often do, learn spellcasting of many schools, and some have been known to display psionic or spiritual powers. The Makaiju themselves can modify their own biosystems to a limited extent, weave lightsails to catch the interstitial winds, maintain pockets of atmosphere in deep space, are in constant psionic communication with one another, and are mystic and physical powerhouses when roused.

Kyriani and makaijujin cannot be told apart without a detailed medical examination, or a very brief psychological profile; most kyriani are slightly bewildered by the tree-folk, as despite their identical appearances they are very little alike. Interspecies relationships occasionally occur, but as makaijujin cannot live without their Trees, and kyriani can't survive on planets congenial to the Makaiju, such liaisons are usually doomed.

As the Kyrian explorers never told the Makaiju about aging and death, the tree didn't include any such features in its children; Ail and An are still alive and well, beloved founders of a family that extends across known space.




Coming... eventually: The Sailor Starlights, the Animamates, Galaxia (and anyone else we've forgotten)



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