The known galaxy is home to at least eleven intelligent species, possibly twelve if certain Human genetic experiments have been successful. Additional species exist in the Kikkita Dominion, however, they are rarely seen in this region of space. Galactic civilization is mostly concentrated in one spiral arm of the galaxy, leaving the rest unexplored. Despite the vast frontier out there for any who dare to claim it, the governments of the civilized galaxy are finding no shortage of things to keep them busy: politicking and fighting with one another.
The terms "galaxy", "civilized galaxy", and "known galaxy" are used interchangeably in this document.
Pronunciation guides: In general, transliteration from a species's native language is done by using standard Latin long vowels (a as in father, e bake, i easy, o flow, u loot) and intuitive spellings as much as possible. Not all transliterated words conform to this scheme, but it holds in most cases. Most species which are incapable of vocalizing the clicks, glottal stops, and various other noises (symbolized with !^%&') which are common in Kikkita and Deogen speech, pronounce those words as if the noises were not present, and no offense is taken.
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2 Major Governments
There are six major governments in the known galaxy. Three of these are extremely powerful, both economically and militarily. Two of the remaining three are fairly small and possess considerably less power than any of the big three. No one knows much of anything about the third grouping. The governments are:
2.1 Kikkita Dominion
The Kikkita Dominion has existed for 8,599 years. The Kikkita, as a species, have had the Dutton Drive and the secrets of navigating the Freitag Tunnels, for several thousand years before that. Over the course of their expansion, the Kikkita have absorbed numerous intelligent species into the Dominion. Almost without exception, this has been entirely peaceful.
The only notable war fought in the Dominion's history was in 4755 against a species known as the Pratlars. The Pratlars took the gifts of the Kikkita: advanced technology and the Dutton Drive, and turned them into weapons of war. Having been at peace for almost 5,000 years, the Dominion was totally unprepared for the aggressive nature of the Pratlars. However, a federation as large as the Dominion possess vast resources, both in technology and in raw materials. Over the next two years, the Dominion shifted to a wartime footing, fighting a delaying action as best it could in the meantime.
Despite the Dominion's best efforts, the Pratlars made significant inroads into Dominion space, eventually threatening the Kikkita homeworld, and the Dominion capital, K^ay To'n Kop!. It was then that the Kikkita announced the Nova Device, a weapon so powerful it could nova a star. The Pratlars did not believe that such a weapon was possible, and pushed forward their attack. In 4758, the Dominion fired the device, causing the Pratlars' home star to explode into a nova. Two years later, the last of the Pratlars were destroyed when they attempted a suicide mission against K^ay To'n Kop!. The Nova Device has not been used since.
Rather than conquering their neighbors, the Kikkita have always preferred to encourage other species to join them by making it worth their while. It cannot be denied that the Dominion is the center of culture in the known galaxy. It boasts the best universities, museums, libraries, and so forth, in civilization. Art, literature, philosophy, science, music, and mathematics all flourish under the Dominion. The Kikkita university planet of Pip Pa^ht Ti! is justly renowned for its contributions to Dominion and galactic culture. Only MIT, on the Human homeworld Earth, can compare to Pip Pa^ht Ti!.
The Dominion permits any member species full access to Dominion technology and education. Non-member species can also study at Kikkita universities, although the tuition charges are considerably higher. Despite this, members of almost every species have spent time studying at Dominion universities.
2.2 Consortium of Human Worlds
Relative newcomers to the galactic scene, Humans first contacted the Deogen in 8463 KY. Although they had discovered the Dutton Drive almost a century before, their initial expansion had taken them away from the centers of civilization. Despite their recent contact, the Humans have already made their mark on galactic civilization, becoming one of the three major powers in scarcely 130 years.
Human science and ingenuity are impressive by any standards. Unlike other species in the galaxy, the Humans have successfully brought sub-sapient species to full sapience. Their most notable success has been with an Earth native lifeform known as the "chimpanzee." Over a period of approximately 200 years, the Humans managed to turn the chimpanzee from a happy, banana- and termite-eating creature, living in complete harmony with its environment, into the modern Chimps (see section *). Humans are also working hard on another species, the dolphin. Results of these experiments are still unknown.
2.3 Shi'at Nagra Alliance
Unlike most other galactic societies, the Shi'at Nagra do not inhabit planets. Rather, they are interstellar nomads, wandering the galaxy in their vast family ships. Driven from their homeworld millennia ago in some unknown disaster, they have since wandered the starlanes.
Romantic as this may sound, the rest of the galaxy has generally not found it quite so pleasant. Shi'at Nagra pirates regularly raid passenger vessels and freighters. Shi'at Nagra have an undeserved reputation for being nasty, brutish, and short. In fact, they are nasty, brutish, and very tall.
2.4 Free Realms of the Deogen
The Deogen are one of the few species in the galaxy to have invented the Dutton Drive on their own, instead of having it given to them. When first contacted by the Kikkita Dominion in 8231 KY, they had already established a small federation of approximately fifty worlds.
Contact between the Kikkita and the Deogen proved to be something of a problem. Unlike previous contacts, diplomatic missions to the Deogen did not go well. While over half the population expressed a desire to join the Dominion, much of the remainder actively resisted the idea. When the government eventually voted, by a narrow margin, to accept the Dominion's offer to join, civil war broke out in 8237 KY. As neither side had asked the Dominion to intervene, Dominion forces remained apart from the fray. The war continued for nine years with neither side gaining the upperhand.
In 8346 KY, Deogen rebel forces successfully attacked and, through saturation nucleonic bombing, destroyed the Deogen homeworld and seat of government. Fighting broke out across the Realms with renewed fury.
Finally, in 8348 KY, the Deogen government-in-exile called on the Dominion for assistance. Dominion military forces moved into the area, and, over the next six years, brought about a cessation in hostilities. Unfortunately, nationalistic fervor has not died down in the two and a half centuries since then. Terrorist activities still continue between members of the Deogen Independence Group (DIG) and the law-abiding citizens of the Dominion.
2.5 Eorim Commonwealth
The Eorim Commonwealth is the most recent entrant into the galactic scene. When first contacted by the Dominion in 8513 KY, the Eorim had a small commonwealth of some ten worlds. They did not yet have the Dutton Drive, using instead slower-than-light coldsleep vessels. Peaceful contact between the Dominion exploration vessel and the Eorim was swiftly established and the Kikkita began the process of teaching another species the secrets of faster-than-light travel. By 8554 KY, the Eorim had learned to build Dutton Drive vessels of their own and nearly perished as a result.
Because the Eorim were restricted to using sleeper ships to travel between their worlds, journeys took decades to complete. What no one realized was that the Eorim on each separate world had encountered, and become resistant to, various illnesses native to those worlds. The long journeys by coldsleep had served as an effective quarantine period to prevent the spread of disease amongst the worlds. However, with the Dutton Drive in their hands, the Eorim suddenly fell prey to plagues from each of their worlds. It took them seven years to bring the diseases under control.
No sooner had they brought the plagues under control, then civil war erupted amongst the Eorim. Each world vied for preeminence in the Commonwealth. Eventually, after countless deaths, the Eorim achieved some measure of stability.
Today, the Eorim Commonwealth is sandwiched between the expanding Consortium of Human Worlds and the Dominion. Under economic pressure from both, and threatened by the Shi'at Nagra Alliance, it is unclear how much longer the Eorim will survive.
2.6 Aisi Cabal
The Aisi are probably the most mysterious species in the galaxy. They are also unique in being non-biological. Rather, they are machine intelligences. No one really knows where the Aisi come from or what their purpose is in existence. While individual Aisi wander amongst the worlds of all governments, no one has ever visited an Aisi world. In fact, no one even knows if there are any Aisi worlds.
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There are eleven confirmed sapient species in this area of the galaxy. A twelfth species may also exist, depending on the results of Human genetic engineering. Other species exist in the Kikkita Dominion, however they are generally never seen in this region of space. Unless otherwise stated, most species live an average of eight to ten decades. The species, including the experimental species, are:
Aisi may best be described as a "self-made" species. An individual Aisi is capable of constructing its body to its own specifications. Its body structure will vary over time, changing to meet various needs. Rarely, if ever, does an Aisi bother to imitate the physical appearance of other species. Most Aisi look rather like black boxes equipped with a bewildering array of monitors, input devices, manipulatory appendages, and the like. Aisi are virtually immortal so long as their central processing unit is not destroyed.
The Bekosh are lizard-like creatures standing some eight feet tall, and are some twelve feet long when measured from nose-tip to tail-tip. Unusually thin, and always impeccably dressed, the Bekosh are one of the dominant species in the Kikkita Dominion. Bekosh colouring tends toward the dark greys and blacks. Bekosh are known for being high-strung and extremely efficient.
Chimps are somewhat short creatures, standing an average of four feet tall. They are usually covered in dark brown or black hair and are extremely strong for their size. Chimps are the result of Human genetic engineering, and are believed to now be as intelligent as their creators. Chimps are one of the three species in the galaxy that bare their teeth as a sign of friendship.
The Deogen are a birdlike species, somewhat resembling the Earth owl. They were described by the first Human to encounter them, Captain Edward Quayle, as having something called "golfballs" for eyes. Although the Deogen maintain the light body structure and wings of their avian ancestors, when the species descended from the birds, it also descended from the skies. A modern Deogen is no more capable of flying on his own than a politician can get through a day without lying. Deogen also have two arms and two legs, using their wings mostly for balance and decoration. The fully decorated plumage of an adult Deogen can be a wonder to behold.
The Eorim are short, four-limbed creatures covered in a light downy fur. They have a somewhat ursine appearance, and are best known for having the shortest lifespan of any sapient species in the galaxy. A Eora rarely lives much more than twenty standard years, with thirty an absolute maximum. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, they are quick to learn and have expanded rapidly since obtaining the Dutton Drive from the Kikkita. Individual Eorim are distinguished by the color patterns in their fur, usually ranging from dark earth tones to yellows and oranges. Eorim are one of the three species in the galaxy that bare their teeth as a sign of friendship.
Recent attempts on the part of the Humans at genetically modifying the Earth dolphin have been reported to produce a new species, dubbed the 'Fin. While the Humans have not made any claims to success in this project, recent reports indicate that at least one 'Fin has been seen floating around on Stopover. If the project has been successful, the 'Fin would be expected to somewhat resemble their parent species: sleek, ocean-going, pale-grey creatures with beaky noses and no manipulative organs.
Humans are tall, mostly slender creatures with somewhat less hair on their bodies than Chimps. Most Humans only have hair on their heads. Some also have hair on their faces and many of those seem not to have any on their heads. This has been a great source of puzzlement amongst other species, and may have something to do with Human religious practices. Their lack of body hair shows Humans' oily skin and sunken eyes to great effect. This is considered a detriment by many, although apparently not by other Humans, as the species has no trouble reproducing. Humans are the third species in the galaxy that bare their teeth as a sign of friendship.
The Igratana are another birdlike species, quite similar to the Deogen, although slightly shorter. In fact, after contacting the Deogen, Kikkita researchers discovered that the Igratana are their descendants, the result of a generation ship which travelled a thousand years before making landfall. The Igratana are members of the Kikkita Dominion.
The dominant species of the Kikkita Dominion, the Kikkita are a brightly coloured insectoid species having six limbs and an ornate carapace. Living an average of 250 years, the Kikkita are the longest-lived species in the galaxy. Most Kikkita prefer to spend their time exploring new realms in the arts and sciences, leaving most of the work of government to the Bekosh (see section * ). Honour and rank amongst the Kikkita are shown by the elaborate inlays and designs painted on their carapaces. Despite their large and apparently unwieldy build, Kikkita can be surprisingly quick and dexterous. Kikkita sex life is something of mystery to just about everyone, including, some say, the Kikkita. The species is composed of five different sexes, all of which are needed for reproduction although not necessarily simultaneously. This is probably fortunate. One Kikkita saying has it that "Reproduction is a job best left to the professionals." For no known reason, most Kikkita refer to themselves as female.
Another Dominion member species, Lemorans are tall, thin, and dour. Noted throughout the Dominion as top-flight artisans and engineers, they also have a deserved reputation for being no fun at parties. Lemorans see most other species as hormone-crazed lunatics. Lemoran colouring tends to greens and grays; they typically dress conservatively. Lemorans have a relatively long lifespan, averaging slightly over one hundred standard years. They claim this is a natural result of their calm, sober outlook on life.
3.11 Shi'at Nagra
The Shi'at Nagra are a tall, powerfully built species possessing six limbs: two legs, two arms, and an intermediate pair which can be used either way. Shi'at Nagra have one of the more unusual biologies of any species -- something of an accomplishment in a galaxy full of odd biologies. Shi'at Nagra children are born genderless. At approximately ten to fifteen standard years of age, they go through their first puberty, becoming fully functional males. The now-male Shi'at Nagra are afflicted with an almost uncontrollable wanderlust. They travel around the galaxy, often serving on other ships or hiring out as mercenaries to other species. After some ten to fifteen very exciting years, they go through female puberty, undergoing a complete sex change. The now-female Shi'at Nagra settles down, usually returning to the ship of her birth and laying in a supply of new clothes. Children are reared communally, in part because it is virtually impossible to keep track of the fathers. Because of their greater maturity, the females tend to be dominant in all aspects of Shi'at Nagra society.
3.12 Tokaji Aszu
The Tokaji Aszu are another member species of the Kikkita Dominion, rarely seen off their own planet. They are short, squat, and shaggy, coming as they do from an extremely cold world. Unlike other pre-technological species who have joined the Dominion, most Tokaji Aszu have chosen to almost totally ignore the Kikkita, preferring to live their lives as their ancestors have always done. Some few have chosen to travel to Dominion schools and become part of Kikkita society. They are in high demand due to their telepathic talents.
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4 Government and Culture
4.1 Kikkita Dominion
Although the Potentate is theoretically the absolute ruler of the Kikkita Dominion, in actual fact the Dominion is a constitutional monarchy. The hexacameral legislature makes most of the decisions, when they can actually get anything done. Fortunately, aware of the difficulties their species has in being practical, Kikkita political scientists did several things to ensure that their government would not come to a screeching halt (assuming that it could ever move fast enough to screech as it halted). While a complete explanation of Kikkita law and government would easily fill a small world, a brief summary is given here. Most Dominion species, including the Kikkita, really don't understand it much anyway.
First of all, the Dominion constitution permits individuals of any member species to become part of the government. Indeed, it strongly encourages them to do so. The Bekosh have been far and away the most successful, and are now involved in virtually all aspects of Kikkita society. They are administrators par excellence, and are probably the major reason that the Dominion continues to function.
The other thing the Kikkita did was carefully delineate the powers of the each of the six houses of Parliament, and which species could join which house. Most laws are made by the House of Assembly and the House of Leaders. The Assembly is composed of members of all species of the Dominion that wish to send representatives to the Assembly. No member species can be denied a seat in the Assembly; each species is represented according to its population in the Dominion. The Leaders, on the other hand, are composed of an equal number of representatives of each species that has requested representation.
The Philosophers and Theoreticians are charged with examining all laws put forth by the Assembly and Leaders. The Philosophers consider the law based on how it stands against Dominion philosophy; the Theoreticians examine all manner of possible effects and ramifications of the law. Either of these Houses has the right to veto any law put forth by the Assembly and Leaders. Should they choose to do so, the law is then given to the Builders to examine. Membership in the Philosophers or Theoreticians is conferred by a long and successful career in the Kikkita universities, and approval of the species of the candidate. Fortunately, in order that laws might be passed and the Dominion function, the Philosophers and Theoreticians are required to pass judgement on any law within seven days of its passage. Furthermore, no clocks or calendars are allowed in their debating chambers, nor is anyone allowed to warn them when time is running out. As a result, the veto is rarely used. But when it is, it is almost always upheld. There have been very few Bekosh members of the House of Philosophers, although Lemorans are frequently in demand. Igratana Theoreticians have been amongst the best in the Dominion.
The House of Builders is responsible for implementing the laws of the Dominion. It can also override a veto if seventy-five percent of the members choose to do so. This is rarely done. Individuals of any Dominion species may be a member of the Builders, elected by popular vote across the Dominion worlds. However, at least one representative of each species that chooses to provide one must be included in the Builders. The Bekosh are heavily represented in the Builders. The Lemorans frequently join the Builders as well.
Finally, the House of Judgement hears and resolves legal disputes. It is responsible for coordinating the court system across the Dominion, and acts as the highest Court, although the Potentate does have the right to pardon any offender of any crime.
Individual species within the Dominion are mostly permitted to retain their own form of government, although swearing allegiance to the Kikkita. Some, such as the Bekosh, have all but completely integrated into the Dominion. Others, such as the Tokaji Aszu, have almost no contact with it.
4.2 Shi'at Nagra Alliance
The Shi'at Nagra Alliance has a social structure quite unlike any other species, maintaining their tradition of being unique and different. Each Alliance citizen has the right to do as she pleases, unless her ship captain orders otherwise. If she doesn't agree with the captain, she can move to another ship. Each ship, in turn, can do as it pleases, unless the head of its Clan orders otherwise. If the ship captain doesn't like that, she can move to another Clan, although the political and familial ramifications of such a move tend to discourage it. Each Clan, in its turn, can do as it pleases, unless the Head of the Alliance orders otherwise. No outsider has ever learned exactly what happens if a Clan Head disagrees with the Head of the Alliance.
4.3 Consortium of Human Worlds
The Consortium of Human Worlds is a federation of planets theoretically ruled by a president and bicameral legislature. In actual fact, however, government is run by the wealthy. Businessman and industrial magnates are often able to dictate policy and act as ambassadors for the Consortium. The Humans are apparently quite proud of their system of government, often claiming that they have the best government that money can buy. What appears to cause the Human system to function is that virtually no one can be elected President without already being extremely wealthy. Current President Millikan Kornchechs is certainly no exception to this.
Chimps, while a minority, are an integral part of life in the Consortium. They have no separate government and culture of their own, but are a part of Human society. Although some agitators claim that the Chimps are treated unfairly and never truly accepted as equal citizens to the Humans, other reports indicate that Chimps have made amazing progress for a species which has been sapient for such a short time.
4.4 Free Realms of the Deogen
The Deogen government is based primarily on merit. The more skilled a person is, the further he will advance in society. Unlike the Humans, who make similar claims, this seems to work quite well for the Deogen, who have developed impressive levels of technology on their own. Unfortunately, there are a number of disagreements as to what constitutes skill. This has led to civil war and the current revolutionary activities against the Dominion. At present, Deogen society is in something of a shambles.
4.5 Igratana Federation
Although a part of the Kikkita Dominion since 7572 KY, the Igratana have maintained many aspects of their own culture. Science, to the Igratana, is their religion. Over the centuries, they have evolved many baffling and mystical rituals which all have one thing in common: they work. Igratana doctors are capable of curing ills through apparently impossible means. Igratana scientists get results using methods that other Dominion scientists cannot begin to understand. Despite this, they are welcomed as part of the scientific and industrial community of the Dominion.
4.6 Eorim Commonwealth
Because of the their short lives, the Eorim place a heavy emphasis on age as a source of wisdom. The Eorim Commonwealth is ruled by the Commonwealth Council of Elders, who make all the decisions. Below them, are the Councils of Elders for each of the Eorim worlds. Most disputes between Eorim are resolved by private arbitration. Each Eora selects a mediator older than him or herself. If the two arbitrators cannot come to any agreement, they each select arbitrators, and so on. Problems seem to work themselves out fairly quickly. As life is usually relatively simple in this agrarian society, it comes as no surprise that the Eorim are having some difficulty adapting to the fast pace of galactic life.
Little is known about Aisi culture and government, if indeed they have much of either. Most Aisi have always been somewhat reticent to speak about their origins and homeworlds, if any. They claim to be the only functioning anarchy in the galaxy.
4.8 Tokaji Aszu
Very little is known about the Tokaji Aszu. On their homeworld, they are a pre-technological culture emphasizing hunting and gathering. Clans often settle for a few years in one place, setting up a small agricultural community. At some point, known only to them, they pick up and move elsewhere. Very few Tokaji Aszu have ever left their homeworld to travel and study in the Dominion. Of the few who have, one or two have entered the Kikkita government. There is a Tokaji Aszu in the Assembly and one in the House of Judgement. Although they have the right to join other Houses, they have not yet chosen to do so.
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5 Travel and Communication
5.1 Dutton Drive
Most star travel is conducted by means of the Dutton Drive, the only known means of defeating the light barrier. Dutton Drive vessels travel in a series of hops, hopefully ending up where they want to be. Longer hops tend to create greater navigational problems. Shorter hops, though slow, are surer. Although frequently difficult to manage, Dutton Drive will generally get you where you want to go.
5.2 Freitag Tunnels
Many thousands of years ago, Kikkita scientists first discovered the existence of odd wormholes through space. These naturally-occuring wormholes came to be called Freitag Tunnels. Each Freitag Tunnel connects two widely separated points in space. Travel along the Tunnel is apparently instantaneous no matter how far apart the ends are.
5.3 Message Rats
Although faster-than-light travel is possible, faster-than-light radio communication remains a thing of fiction. All galactic communications is handled by message rats which travel at high speed from one point to another carrying data in various forms. Because of their small size and relative toughness compared to sapient life, message rats appear capable of significantly riskier Dutton Drive jumps than a ship crewed by sapients, even Aisi.
5.4 Galactic Computer Net
Much of the communication in the galaxy takes place over the galactic computer network. This network, called the Interstellarnet, links universities and businesses on thousands of worlds across all governments. Information is transmitted within star systems by maser technology. Across longer distances, specialized message rats, known as packet rats, are used. Elaborate security procedures have been developed to guarantee that a packet rat is not intercepted and altered on its journey. The practice of altering rats is known as "packet switching."
The net is host to an almost inconceivable variety of news and special interest groups involving people from every species. Netnews permits members of every species to talk to one another, and as such is of great concern to some governments.
5.5 Galactic News Network
The Galactic News Network broadcasts from all major population centers. Information is rebroadcast via radio as fast as the packet rats come in. In this way, news of current interest is transmitted fairly rapidly.
With the establishment of the Interstellarnet, it became possible to coordinate the financial systems of all governments. The Galactic Universal Normalized Credit is now the basic unit of currency. A single GUNC is a fairly large quantity of money; most everyday transactions are handled in milliguncs. The term "credit" most commonly refers to milliguncs. Only the most naive and unsophisticated galactic citizen finds this confusing.
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With the spread of civilization to the stars, it comes as no surprise that new and addictive vices would be discovered. The worst of these is the drug ambrosia. Ambrosia is a creamy pale-orange powder smelling of milk and honey which causes users to believe that they are gods. The user becomes convinced of his omnipotence and omniscience, and will come up with any explanation necessary to explain why his actions may not work they way he intended. A single dose is usually sufficient to addict a member of any oxygen-breathing species. Once addicted, there is no known way to break the addiction and survive. It comes as no great surprise that ambrosia can be sold for staggering quantities of GUNCs.
Another drug popular in the Kikkita Dominion is needle dust, a bluish-green granular powder. Needle dust has been used by the Eorim for centuries in their religious rituals with no ill effects. To the Kikkita, however, it is devastatingly addictive. A Kikkita on needle dust ceases to perceive reality normally, entering a world of her own fantasies. Like ambrosia, there is no known way to break the addiction and live.
Another popular vice is Chocolate. In the Human Consortium, it is commonly viewed as a tasty dessert and sometimes as a mild aphrodisiac. That is, at least, what Human claim. Many observers have claimed that the only thing that chocolate causes the consumer to fall in love with is more chocolate. Chocolate is illegal in the Kikkita Dominion.
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