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Thread: The Universe

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    The Universe

    In the beginning...

    The universe as we know it was birthed at the moment of the Big Bang. This explosion of positive and negative forces, matter and anti-matter, existence and non-existence created the stuff from which galaxies would appear. Over time, obeying the forces of gravity and quantum mechanics, the dust of space coalesced into stars, planets, rocks, and moons, creating the building blocks for what would one day be intelligent life.
    But there was no hurry; stars wheeled and galaxies tumbled in the dance of time, as the universe waited for living creatures to cross the cosmos and spread the breath of life across the great voids. Eventually, in random, scattered places, elements formed molecules, molecules formed chains, and under the influence of water and sunlight and weather these chains wrapped together into simple animals who themselves developed into sentient beings.
    Though the people known as “the Endless" were the first to raise their eyes to the heavens, it is certain that many other peoples existed. Did they leave their planets? Destroy them through over-exploitation? Disappear in natural disasters? These questions can only be answered one solar system at a time. What is certain is that no other race would grow as large, travel as far, or learn as much as the Endless did. It is with them that we say that the living history of the universe truly began.

    The Endless
    The first to travel widely between the stars were known as the Endless; we know of no earlier form of intelligent life that moved between galaxies. That is not to say, of course, that others did not exist. But if they did they rose and fell or were snuffed out, receding back into the dust of history. Perhaps, with time and further exploration, their secrets will be uncovered as well...

    Much is told of the Endless--of their technologies, of their societies, and especially of the uncountable splinters into which their nation eventually shattered itself. Their history is glorious but above all tragic; though they unlocked the secrets of time-space, the stars, and life itself they were unable to master their own internal conflicts. But we must remember this: Though their explorations covered millions of stars across endless light-years of space, even they are barely a drop in the vast sea that is the universe.
    What remains now of the Endless are strange, disjointed traces in the forms of seeds, of observatories, of experiments, of cities and worlds and perhaps – though not all of this is clear or verifiable – in the forms of other peoples.

    Origins
    The Endless society developed on a large, cool planet that they called Tor. It was the second large body orbiting a star now known simply as Prime. Their history is similar to many other peoples who would eventually solve the mysterious physical and mathematical puzzles of space flight: A tale of creation, evolution, growth and prosperity, interlinked with famine, war, disease, and danger.
    In fact, the race that we now refer to as the ‘Endless’ started as separate and distinct groups on the planet. For the first several millennia of their existence these peoples were only peripherally aware of each other’s existence, as they established themselves with difficulty on a planet whose long winters made development slow and arduous. The early Endless history is therefore marked by gradual change among a gradually expanding and inter-related series of tribes. In their early ages before modernization and industrialization, these peoples were:

    - Tundu, farmers and builders who practiced high-intensity cultivation of wet crops as soon as the rivers unfroze. They lived on the equatorial strip of Tor, largely sedentary with a life that revolved around their villages and farms.

    - Haduns, nomadic hunter/gatherers and herdsmen who split off from their brethren, the Tundu, in the distant past. Crossing a land bridge that was briefly accessible during a period of warmth, the Haduns ended up in the coldest, most northerly latitudes of the planet. However, in the vast deserts of ice and snow they discovered numerous volcanic vents. These formed oases amid the frigid surroundings, becoming villages, centers of religious observances, and major trading posts.

    - Different from both of these groups were the Ear, who evolved from ocean life in the saline seas. Sedentary hunter/gatherers, these ocean dwellers evolved from many-armed sea creatures, growing and tending the great purple coral reefs that provided both food and shelter.
    Last edited by Slowhands; 05-10-2012 at 01:15 PM.

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    Tundu
    As civilization developed, the Tundu—like many other sentient beings—followed the path from town to city, then to city-state, and finally to nation. They were of average height, stocky, fair-skinned, and tended to be silent and serious. Bringing forth food from the tundra-like ground was a difficult task, and communities banded together for the long hours of arduous work during the planting and harvesting of their brief season. It was among the Tundu that writing and education first developed, and in particular physical sciences and construction. Their long winters were dedicated to study, thought, prayer, and philosophical debate.
    And to war. Of the many species of animal on Tor that sought to find food and shelter during the long nights, the yellow snakes and the horde spiders were the worst. The snakes fed on simple organisms that lived in the snows, curving slowly through the frigid fields under the bright sun as they sifted snowy powder through their great maws and strained out whatever was edible. Their bodies and especially their mouths became imprinted with yellow stains from the pigments of the millions of tiny organisms they ate. Behind them they left great icy trails and tunnels in the snow dunes, evidence of their passage and danger for the unwary traveler.
    The horde spiders, on the other hand, were hive creatures. They hunted en masse, sending out scouts who called for assistance when they found food by rubbing their hind legs together to make a chirping sound. Reinforcements would arrive, tumbling and scrambling over the snows, joining together to bring down even beasts the size of the yellow snake. The Tundu learned how to imitate the call of the horde spider, and in times of dangerous infestations scouts went out to track the spiders, making the chirping noise when midway between several nests so the spiders would arise and exterminate each other.

    Haduns
    The nations formed from the Haduns were of a very different nature. The search for food was a year-round effort, for even in winter game could be had when it came out to feed—occasionally on the herds that the Haduns kept near the warm volcanic feeding grounds. Dark-skinned, dark-haired, sky-gazers, and philosophers after their own fashion, they spent the coldest nights living on stores of dried meat and frozen soups, telling stories of the constellations and the things that moved just beyond their sight in the darkness. Hunting remained the primary activity and was an important indicator of adulthood, making the Haduns resourceful, resilient, and tough.
    Toughness was needed, as Haduns families and towns were constantly at risk from several dangerous species. There were the White Ones, great predatory beasts that ran on four legs or two, covered with white hair and noiseless as the wind when hunting. Out in the great windswept reaches of the North were also the packs of silver wolves, nearly invisible in the windswept grayness of the arctic plains.
    Unfortunately for the Haduns there were also the Borers. These were omnivorous tunneling larvae many times larger than a person, with a circle of chitinous beaks around a central maw, a rigid crest behind, and a much smaller body that followed. Thriving in the warmer, softer earths near the volcanic vents, they exploded from the ground in search of food. It is for this reason that the Haduns never built on the earth unless necessary, and also why an important role for the village youths was to lie alert, ear to the ground, concentrating and listening for that sound like grinding seeds.

    Ear
    Alien and far removed from their terrestrial neighbors, the Ear evolved in the deeps as stewards of the seas and explorers. Colored in the blues and browns of the sea, as their brains grew and bodies developed they developed first vestigial, then fully functioning limbs. Ear society, though sedentary and communal, was ever at risk from the large numbers of predators that stalked the oceans. For this reason the Ear were the first to aggressively adopt and integrate other species into their society. Using them as scouts, as builders, as mounts, and as sources of food and clothing, they went to great lengths to tame and harvest the wide range of beasts living in the oceans.
    There were some, however, who were beyond their control. The scythefish were pests of the worst sort. Like swimming blades with a long, razor-sharp crest of accreted ceramics, schools of these were capable of swimming through a town and leaving nothing but bloody ribbons behind them. Complex defenses occasionally worked, but the Ear relied primarily on the assistance of the great cloudfish. These were great spheres of gastric juices that floated slowly through the oceans, digesting anything that came within reach of their trailing tentacles. The problem was that it took centuries to train, educate, and control the cloudfish to the point where they understood friend from foe.
    The greatest risk, however, aside from the occasional carnivorous dinosaur, was the great leviathans. Larger than the field of view, they announced their arrival hours ahead through the hooting and wailing of their slow, mournful song. Scythefist would swim through one, feeding, and move on; cloudfish would tag a ride for days, feeding on the slowly moving mountain of flesh. But the leviathans were too vast and too scarred to be troubled by this. Nudging along the floors and ridges of the sea, their great trawler of a mouth would take in everything, scraping down to rock and ice whatever lay in their path. The first Ear strategies involved small villages in crevices or valleys, or larger ones with bolt-holes into cliff faces. Over the ages the leviathan grew to have a mythical status, and in fact they were unsure if there were more than one, or where they (or it) came from, or whether there was something—may the waters preserve us—even greater and more fearsome that drove them (or it) up from the hadopelagic depths.

    These were the three main peoples, then, from whom sub-tribes and offshoots spread and developed over the centuries. While stress and struggle was inevitable, the great, world-changing events only began when these three civilizations began to meet.
    Last edited by Slowhands; 05-10-2012 at 01:16 PM.

  3. #3
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    Discovery of Space Flight
    Due to a series of laws regulating the speed of industrialization called the teyun, (Note: see The Great Coastal War in Appendix 1: Ancient History) the discovery of space travel technologies was followed very slowly by the exploitation of space itself. As resources were tight and investment limited, an effort as vast as creating life-supporting spacecraft that could travel interstellar voids was necessarily slow to develop.
    By the fifth century M.E., however, local space mining of nearby objects and asteroid belts had supplied enough precious materials for the various Torians to finally build crafts that were on the scale of their ambitions.

    Some of the notable early efforts were:
    - Muiril Soault, captain of the ship "The Bright Things Beckon", that first established a viable mining colony on a near-Tor object;
    - Blyoskel Kyoich, Reverend Father of a small religious community based on Haduns shamanism, who set up a biosphere on Erat, the small planetoid closer than Tor to Prime;
    - Hubel Keer, admiral of the "Ask and Answer" flotilla that departed Tor to set up a permanent scientific observatory base and resource harvesting factory called "One Great Step" at Kuiper-belt radius from Prime;
    - Dauoing Foieq, captain of the ship "So Must We All One Day”, which departed on a one-way (and ultimately suicidal) mission to orbit the nearest star.

    There is one other name that should be mentioned at this point in Endless history: Rheuaril Beih. Beih was one of a group of miners who had grown up on "One Great Step", and thus was the first of many more Torian generations who would become increasingly distant from their home world and culture.
    Prospecting for rare elements needed for the construction of robot factories that would one day build the "So Must We All One Day", she came across a form of mineral that was at that time unknown to the Torians. A series of tests turned up a most unexpected result when the mineral reacted to stimuli, consumed energy, and altered its shape. It was in this way that Beih went down in history as being the first to discover an alien life form.
    That species, known as the Harmony, had apparently been sentient since the dawn of time in the known universe. A fundamental creature born of the energies of the Big Bang, the living rocks of the Harmony were capable of manipulating quantum energies and gravitation. The Harmony spread itself at widely varying speeds across the stars using space-time anomalies, gravitons or even interplanetary transport networks. Little direct knowledge was gained due to the near impossibility of communication, but study of the Harmony led to leaps in the Torians' ability to manipulate gravity and time-space.

    The Diaspora
    While one would typically expect Beih's encounter to lead to an explosion in manned space flight and intergalactic development, the truth of the matter is that building and manning a craft to cover those distances is an enormous undertaking even at a highly advanced level of technology. For this reason, it took decades and even centuries for the Torians to begin to explore their arm of the galaxy.
    Spread out across numerous systems and planets, generations away from the planet where the race was birthed, it is at this point that the term 'Torian' started to become meaningless, and the people known as the 'Endless' were born.
    Last edited by Slowhands; 03-07-2012 at 11:52 AM.

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    The Death of Tor
    Due to the complexity of their natural biology and the relative difficulty in building space-going vessels that contained water atmospheres, the Ear were much slower to leave tor and move into space. Instead, they turned their energy and sciences into more intensive exploration of the planet, digging ever deeper into the crust and settling in the abysses of the oceans.
    While the Ear learned much of high-pressure environments and the extraction of minerals under extremes of pressure, a time came when the drills and explosives of their industry disturbed the crust of the planet itself. It happened in a mine far below the bottom of the deepest sea trench, known as Beneath-the-Belly-of-the-Leviathan, in a mining operation run by a corporation called To-Share-the-Bounty. Using fission devices to shift and fraction large rock plates in order to break them into exploitable chunks, a fracture was caused that broke open a path to the lava at the planet’s core. Exploding out under pressure, the magma followed the path of the mine—obliterating the entire operation and a large undersea city in seconds—and began to fill Beneath-the-Belly-of-the-Leviathan.
    In a matter of days, the instability spread to several other deep sea trenches in the same region, and notable increases in water temperatures were recorded. Leviathans went mad, first in the affected area and then sympathetically across the entire planet. As entire regions were rendered uninhabitable and entire populations of sea life were wiped out, the clock began ticking. It would only be a matter of months before much of the Ear homeworld would no longer be habitable.
    Emergency messages came and went. Full-scale evacuations to land and to space were triggered in a panic; asteroids were hollowed out, filled with ice that was melted and purified, and thousands of Ear were driven inside in desperate bids to save the species.
    But time was short and resources were not infinite. As the seas died over a period of months, millions of Ear died with them. Ecological havoc was visited upon the land and sea as storms ranged, currents changed, and seasons became indistinguishable.
    When the last rocket lifted to raise a few thousand more Ear into a desperately under-prepared orbital, it left behind millions of dying and dead on a planet that was a geological catastrophe. The survivors watched from space as fire and water met, turning their home into a ball of boiling vapor.
    The impact of these events on the Endless conscious was enormous. While the loss of a million lives was a misfortune, the destruction of a homeworld was a catastrophe that resonated through the soul of the species. Songs and tales rapidly spread concerning the last months of the planet. Across the reach of the Endless discoveries the message was left everywhere: Spun into perpetual machine-driven vibrations that would echo forever across the void, memorized as nursery rhymes to indoctrinate the children, even carved into the faces of planets in letters as tall as mountains.

    The Wars of Alteration
    The Ear took the adaptation to space with great difficulty. Water-breathing creatures have heavy and expensive life support systems, and they find the atmosphere in space colonies to be painfully dry and hard on their epidermis. A number of major, radical changes to their own biochemistry would be necessary in order to survive this; and with the help of allies among the Torian spacefarers they began the arduous process. Augmentations, grafts, and artificially grown organs helped many survive who may have died, but more was needed. Decisions were taken by some scientists to adapt the genetic code of the Ear to become an entirely new species, no longer dependent on water.
    Many of the survivors viewed this as an abomination; the thought of altering one’s body so fundamentally was an unthinkable and unforgivable act, beyond treason or apostasy. Arguments became demonstrations, demonstrations became riots, and riots became wars. But space habitats were still small and fragile, and the risk of mass suicide or genocide was enormous. Still, it happened: Alterists on A-Second-Hope attacked a police barracks where a pro-alteration doctor was imprisoned. The resultant fires consumed the oxygen supply of the station in a matter of minutes, crippled life support machinery, and caused the death of over 6,000 displaced Ear as well as their Hradun hosts; an anti-Alterist on the hollowed-out asteroid Thanks-for-Small-Things used mining charges to crack a hole in the part of the asteroid where the Alterists where living, venting them into space and causing a ripple effect that destabilized the asteroid crust. The resultant loss of atmosphere killed most of the population.
    For those who survived the wars and went ahead with alterations, it only required a few decades for the accelerated evolution of the Ear to change them radically from the people that they had been. An era was passing that would be looked at and referred to by many names: The Changing, The Perversion, or the End of Youth.

    The Tragedy of Kyros
    By the middle years of the seventh century ME, several hundred exoplanets had been explored and Endless orbitals circled several dozen that could potentially be habitable. Many were settled, notably Kyros.
    Kyros was a planet whose environment was so welcoming that it became viewed by many Torian religions as their promised paradise. They flocked to it in great numbers, set up communities and nations of competing religions, and heatedly disputed its purpose, use, and ownership. While fear for the planet’s ecosystem kept these different groups in check, the rise of a strong and manipulative leader from within one of the parties spun the society into self-destruction.
    A brilliant charismatic preacher, Koil, founded a Kyros-is-paradise religion but with a twist; as he had discovered this Truth he was the Chosen Leader, and those who Followed would be blessed. It is a well-known fact that once a leader begins to speak in capital letters things are going to get ugly; and this was no exception.
    Koil nevertheless had two saving graces: A real, honest belief that Kyros must be protected and preserved, and a loving mate, Hoce, who believed deeply in him and his cause. Several times, when Koil’s fanaticisms or political maneuvers brought the factions to the brink of war, it was Hoce’s diplomacy and purity who reconciled the leaders of armies.
    This was unfortunately a common occurrence, as Koil’s belief in the Rightness of his Cause was unwavering, and his ability to charm, hoodwink, and seduce neutrals and enemies was enormous. But a time came, of course, when the growing power of Koil, Lord of Kyros became a threat to the other divisive factions, and a conflict began that no amount of pleading by Hoce could resolve.
    So war came, and Kyros burned, and in his ego and his madness Koil unleashed the ultimate weapon – Dust that existed only to create Dust, infinitely, until there was nothing left. The face of the planet turned alive as earth, buildings, water, and beings were broken down into their elemental parts and rebuilt as nano-machines.
    The last to die was Hoce, still believing, still hoping for the gods themselves to appear, end the horror, and bless them all. She criss-crossed the world in an airship built of balloons and solar motors, seeking him, seeking peace, crying out for her love. It is said that craft that later visited the planet – without touching down – could hear her voice on the wind, still calling his name.
    Like the loss of Tor itself, this loss of the greatest treasure that they had yet discovered drove the Endless into adopting an extreme "hands-off" policy in exploring and exploiting planets and planetary bodies. Already a species whose population was over 80% off-planet, the Torians moved even further in the direction of non-intrusive exploration, observation, and non-intervention. Teyuns became the one and only religion, and their violation was met with immediate punishment.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:43 PM.

  5. #5
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    The Recusion
    As a result of the Tragedy of Kyros, their process of discovery began to revolve around a set of rules called "They Must Be Remembered”, an extension of the teyuns, which was based on development of moon-based observation posts, passive probes, and long term analysis. Planets were only marked as targets for colonization after decades of research, and in fact most Endless explorers moved on to discover the wonders of other stars and planets rather than put up with the ages-long wait until it was determined that one was declared exploitable.
    Three centuries of the Endless therefore grew up more in ships, mined asteroids, and constructed orbitals than on planetary surfaces. Their physiology began to evolve, as the lack of gravity made fundamental changes in their bodies.
    As these changes began to alter the fundamental philosophy and morphology of the Endless peoples, a third thing came along that would be equally disruptive – a substance known as Dust.

    The Birth of Dust
    This strange substance that came to dominate the Endless culture had relatively mundane origins; scientists driven by the problems of the Ear developed increasingly miniaturized machines in order to handle the biophysics of adaptation. What started as micro-machines to assist under-oxygenated gills or as tiny dermato-prophylactic swarms began to evolve. They became ever smaller, ever more mobile, ever more adapted to pulling energy from ambient radiation. Ultimately, they learned to self-network and self-organize, which had the unexpected side effect of creating near-infinite networks of intelligent mechanical nodes.
    Therefore, what is now commonly known as “Dust” was a mix of different miniaturized elements that could replicate themselves, self-assemble, and network. Based on technologies of quantum computing and atomic-level miniaturization, Dust was capable of simple physical tasks as well as feats of advanced computing. As large numbers of elements communicated, combined, and interacted, it could even form sophisticated AI systems that were able to achieve advanced levels of reasoning and analysis. Its utility and flexibility became such that Dust was created in enormous volumes and became an integral component of everyday life.
    At the time of the Endless Space game, Dust is only known as a rare and priceless resource created by the Endless that appears to give almost god-like incomprehensible powers to its users. For, as the Endless technology to handle it was lost, new races will have to discover the secrets within Dust through experimentation.
    Some people will gain powers that appear to be supernatural due to the effects of the Dust; they became known as “Heroes” due to their innate capacity to absorb Dust and exploit its many capacities.
    However, as it can vary from a highly sophisticated physical tool to an advanced AI and could even contain a sleeping “consciousness”, as more and more Dust is gathered together, strange things might happen and strange effects occur without any control from those Heroes…
    Last edited by Slowhands; 06-21-2012 at 10:37 AM. Reason: Fixed a typo (thanks, FinalStrigon!)

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    Virtualization
    One of the great mysteries of any sentient race is the understanding of consciousness. As Endless technology increased in sophistication, they turned more and more to questions about this oldest of mysteries. It was one thing to develop artificial intelligence; they had many of these that were highly advanced and helped them to run their ships, societies, and habitats. However, there is a great difference between creating an artificial mind inside a machine, and actually placing an already living mind inside an electronic container.
    An AI appears to think, and with advanced neural networks and learning systems the Endless achieved great advances in this area. They still sought the ultimate prize in this area of study, however: Creating systems and processes that would allow a being to "upload" its mind and personality into a computer.
    The Endless were, if nothing else, a patient and dedicated race; in time they found the mechanisms by which a mind transferred to a machine was indistinguishable from the copy of that mind housed in the original body. In a burst of activity, they began to upload and download their very souls, able to spend time indifferently either traveling through networks or on vehicles. New forms of sensing organs evolved as the Endless learned to master these different forms, for communication between virtual entities and sensations received when in electronic form were radically different from what their corporeal selves were used to experiencing.
    This achievement is credited to numerous different scientists and entities depending on what Endless group's history one reads. The most reliable and seemingly accurate attribute the discovery of practical virtualization to one of three sources:
    - A professor named Sluaym and his research team, working in the Department of Discovering the Next Way Forward (DINWARD or Advanced Psychology Research) at the University of the Lee Shore of the North Heeur Ice Sheet on Memories-of-That-We-Lost;
    - A small team of scientists with an openly professed alternative lifestyle, living in a large orbital complex off a gas giant circling the star named Tetomeus Minor. Their commune called itself One-Sex-One-Way-Many-Procedures (Osowmap), and the key team members were Cleeoinal, Clieobur, Cloeeyech, and Cloeyina.
    - A cyber-warfare team funded by the Ministry of Maintaining Our Chosen Lifestyle (Mocholi a.k.a. Defense), run by a small cabal of extreme right-wing officers who were part of the orbital mission that protected the remains of Kyros as a neutral site.
    - However, the most likely candidate was a scientist named Ortaam…

    Ascension to Godhood
    Once the process of the Diaspora began, aided by improved exploitation of far-flung asteroid belts and greater sophistication in deep-space construction facilities, the evolution of the Endless began to accelerate at an almost exponential pace. In several locations they were studying the most advanced physical and biological sciences imaginable, pushing the boundaries of life, consciousness, and reality.
    Circling a red dwarf known as Bilgeli were three research stations run by three of the greatest scientists ever produced by the Endless. They were geniuses, striving to pierce the unknown, whose efforts were fueled by all the technology available at the height of the Endless’s power. One station, Aevum, led by Nona Woerae, studied biology and the sciences of creation and evolution. The second one, Fatum, was more technical, studying the branches of mathematics and computational systems and opening up great precision in planning, forecasting and statistics. The third one, Letum, studied psychology, neurobiology, and the sciences of the conscious. It was led by an Alterationist named Spotora Ortaam.
    To this system came a ragged fleet of dilapidated ships led by a visionary known as Icarael, who had through sheer force of will and character saved an enormous population of Ear from death. He had chided, cajoled, raged, and begged them all the way across a hostile universe, hoping for a kinder fate. While the sciences of the Bilgeli stations brought solace to many of the wanderers, Icarael himself was lost to the most ancient of magics; he was struck by the wisdom and the passion of Spotora, and within a week of their arrival in the system he had abdicated his post, left the fleet, and sworn to follow her to the end of time.
    Spotora was less than enchanted by this. She needed no passions other than her work, and the constant flow of refugees entreating Icarael to return to his position did not improve things. Rejection followed rejection until Icarael could no longer contain himself; he committed suicide in her laboratory one day by ordering the Dust to reconfigure her medical equipment, remove his heart, and place it in stasis. There she saw it when she returned to her studies after the next sleep cycle, spinning slowly in the gravity-less environment, paused between beats for all eternity.
    Curious at last to learn more of this madman, she analyzed the DNA that had created such a mind and such a spirit. It turned out to be the final link in her studies, the last element she required to unlink the conscious from the mortal form.
    The effects of this discovery, in the decades that followed its dissimulation across Endless space, were enormous. For practical, economic, and social reasons it caused a major upheaval in the fundamental structure of the society and a completely new interpretation of the needs of Endless civilization. Who needed to worry about complexities like food, clothing, and shelter? As long as there was a sufficiently advanced infrastructure in place, the needs of all individuals could be met by an adequate supply of power and good maintenance robots.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:43 PM.

  7. #7
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    The Death of Death
    Virtualization was explosive in its impact on the scattered Endless society. Death itself, the ultimate foe, had been vanquished by their science. What to do? Where to go when the possibilities are suddenly as limitless as time?
    Sadly, much of the society simply ‘disconnected’ and fell into thrill-seeking, tourism, extreme experiences… Once nothing could kill you, why should life have limits? Indulgence and excess rocketed off the scale as vast swathes of the society experimented with lust, gluttony, and sadomasochism. Dust could rebuild bodies, Dust could house minds; a society of bodiless minds with no physical needs became a society totally unhinged from its roots. Boredom turned them to bizarre and exotic pursuits: the creation of mutants, living toys, extreme self-alteration... In their wealth and power they begin to regard anything not wealthy and powerful with contempt.

    The Great Schism
    Numerous cracks and a great deal of fragmentation had already begun to occur in this society that was stretching itself thin across the universe. Estimates state that given the number of exploratory vessels (which often developed their own sub-governments and social structures), habitats, research stations, mining operations, colonized planets, flotillas, and communes, by 1200 M.E. there were over one thousand discrete societies within the umbrella that we simply refer to as the Endless.
    As happened at Kyros, for many reasons--religious, scientific, cultural, and psychological--the different peoples and groups of Endless drifted apart, and sometimes into open conflict. However, the advent of virtualization intensified the process of polarization and differentiation as all of the various sub-elements of the society came face to face with unexpectedly simple answers to difficult questions about life, the future, and immortality. The responses to this event were as numerous as the society was splintered.
    It was simple for Osowmap, who immediately uploaded themselves, had robots give their bodies a fine funeral, and disappeared into the databanks of their habitat. As their computer systems were already geared to the creation of multiple worlds and consciousnesses, they had found their virtual eternity. More puritan groupings took a middle road, using the virtual phase of existence for communication and research, but guarding the corporeal form for socializing, intimacy, and celebration. Examples of this were the Technologists who intensively developed all the orbital bodies they could find around the star Tau Cetarum, the Shared Mind Shared Responsibilities Shared Land (Shamsharshal) nation based in the rt-cloud distance asteroids around the inhospitably hot blue-white sun of Chremus, and many of the remaining inhabitants of the original world, Tor, who felt a certain obligation of stewardship for the planet.
    However, many groups were opposed to the idea of virtualization, and for a number of reasons worked either casually or aggressively to discourage the spread of so-called "Freeminds" or "Virtuals" among their citizens. Some, like the Mocholi conservatives that preserved the ruins of Kyros in atonement for the actions of the Endless there, were dedicated to acts that required physical effort and the use of a body. Groups like this might have had reasons based on ethical principles, mistrust of new technology, fears for individual or group security, or simply a preference for the physical world. In any case, they were adamantly opposed to the idea of moving to a virtual existence. There were also fringe groups like the Sensualists of the All-is-Permissible-Evil-Exists-Only-Where-It-Is-Invited alternative lifestyle habitat who simply found the body too much fun to give up.
    Regardless of their various reasons, the advent of virtualization accelerated the trend to dissociation and disagreement which had already become a challenge for the larger society.
    Schisms in the society developed between the “Virtuals", who sought electronic immortality, and the "Concretes", who viewed that idea as undesirable or repugnant. For several decades both sides sought to prove the superiority of their ideals, while problems grew over decisions of how and where to invest and develop science. While one side saw no need to invest in things like bio-medical research and agriculture as the body was no longer necessary, the other clearly sought further breakthroughs in these areas.
    Splits of budgeting became movements of secession, and the movements of secession eventually broke into open conflict with each other.
    Last edited by Slowhands; 06-04-2012 at 12:32 AM.

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    The Dust Wars
    When conflict broke out, both sides took advantage of the mechanical and computational capabilities of Dust to try to destroy the other.
    The Virtuals created hybrid living machines to hunt and destroy Concretes, who in turn created viruses and deathware to eradicate the consciences of the Virtuals.
    The "Concretes" tried to purge databases of virtual consciences, and the Virtuals did what they could to make existing space installations uninhabitable.
    Running, chasing, escaping, fleeing, the Dust Wars caused a second major diaspora of the Endless, leaving them spread ever more distantly from each other and encouraging them to continue moving onward.
    In time, on a system-by-system and cluster-by-cluster basis, one or the other groups of Endless gained the upper hand and eradicated the other. It was most difficult for the reasonable ones who were caught in the middle; viewed as enemy by both Virtuals and Concretes they fared poorly. Only on the homeworld of Tor did the two groups find a balance, and even there they devolved into mutually suspicious and hostile fortified city-states.
    Some of the major conflicts of the Dust Wars are:
    • Isolation
    o Virtuals kill the satellite system in order to isolate a planet, then drop the dead satellites on to the major industrial centers of a colony. The Concretes are forced to rebuild their civilization from Renaissance-level technology.
    • EMPicide
    o Concretes detonate an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) device near a Virtual habitat in deep space. The Virtuals are instantly wiped out, but the equipment is generally salvageable.
    • To Breathe Dust
    o The Virtuals drop Dust into the air handling system of an orbital, giving it orders to pierce holes and disable microchips. The Concretes slowly choke to death.
    • Grounded
    o Concretes bring all the electrical systems of a planet inhabited by Virtuals to ground, i.e. zero charge, destroying the Virtuals.
    • Fratricide
    o Networked Dust is released in a Concrete armada, infecting the C3 (command, control, communication) systems. The ships end up turning their guns against each other.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:44 PM.

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    The Splintering
    Following the internecine Dust Wars, much of the fabric of Endless civilization was either destroyed, cut off into non-communicating islands, or scattered too thinly across the stars to re-form a critical mass and move ahead as a single entity. As communication lapsed the different elements that once made up the society grew apart, eventually to the point of radically different evolutions.
    The Dust encountered in the game comes from the remnants of these civilizations.
    Both the Concrete and the Virtual elements of the civilization further subdivided themselves depending on where they found themselves in the galaxy, what their leadership wanted, and what resources were on hand. A sample of some of the splinters that broke off and sought their own destinies is included below.
    It should be emphasized that elements of many of these groups could often be found living together, or tendencies to more than one of these preferences could be found within any group of either Concretes or Virtuals. In some cases, however, groups sought to isolate and ‘purify’ themselves, taking over terrain or habitat space in order to live on their own.

    Concretes:

    Trade and Finance
    There remained, nevertheless, some Torians who still loved trade, commerce, investment, and development for the sake of projects and competition.

    The primary groups were:

    Objectivists
    Lovers of beautiful things and hoarders of the same, they were nicknamed this not for their objectivity or socio-economic philosophy, but because they loved to collect things.

    Analytics
    More mathematicians and planners than salespeople, the Analytics were often sought after for their knowledge of the effects of space-time on interest rates and investments.

    Warriors
    While both Virtuals and Concretes had militarily-minded groups, the warrior groups within the Concretes carried on the ancient traditions of Tor and its colonies.

    Monks
    One of the larger movements, many forms of monks, martial artists, and military ascetics formed to study self-perfection through their discipline. As advanced technology provided for basic needs, Monks spent enormous amounts of time in training and developed superhuman capacities in their martial arts.

    Strategists
    Game theorists, statisticians, generals, and players, the Strategists studied the arts of time, placement, logistics, and force.

    War Machines
    The creation of machines of war—from personal weaponry to space-based stations—meant that this particular splinter of Endless society was in contact with many of the Concretes. Their skills and products were often in demand.

    Experientialists
    These groups took advantage of a post-scarcity society of plenty to plunge themselves into the physical world and its pleasures.

    Dudes
    Primarily driven by curiosity with mind- and body-altering chemicals, they lived in peaceful and largely useless communes.

    Pure Body Movement
    A surprisingly strong and important movement, they believed that the Virtual world was one of temptation, and the best way to remain pure and strong was to reject the seductions of advanced technology by keeping the mind and body as untouched as possible.

    Esthetes
    Lovers of art, beauty, and nature, this group spent its time seeking beauty and joy in natural or created works. Sub-groups tended to prefer one or the other.

    Scientists and Researchers
    Many concretes stayed with the sciences, pushing forward the frontiers of astronomy, biology, and physics.

    Explorers
    Concretes continued to explore the galaxy in ships, led by those among them who were seduced by the beauty or isolation of space and controlled by their wanderlust.

    Radical Rebirth
    This offshoot of the Concretes emphasized a need to move away from all forms of biotechnology, re-launching the race itself from a new base in order to start over again.

    Life Scientists
    A large part of the research was done in furthering biosciences, particularly in areas like cloning, terraforming, and longevity.

    Technologists
    Engineers were numerous in the Concrete society, and many different branches and schools flourished.
    -Small Worlders
    This branch was dedicated to perfecting biospheres and small habitats, doing what they could in order to allow a stable society to continue while living on a minimum of resources.
    -Good Shepherds
    These Technologists focused on ecology, sustainability, and repairing the damage done by previous generations.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:46 PM.

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    Virtuals:

    Intellectuals
    For many of the Virtuals, the possibility of existing in a state with no physical needs, a being of pure thought, was exceedingly tempting.

    Rebootists
    This group believed that the capacity to become a disembodied being was an opportunity to rethink and restart the Torians as a race. They felt that this new form permitted them to ignore all previously held beliefs and constraints, and redefine the notions of existence, life, and desire.

    Cabal of Pure Thought
    The Cabal was a small, defined group of intelligences who became obsessed with questions of philosophy, natural science, and thought experiments.

    The Infinite Contemplation
    This is a group of star-gazers, in the purest sense of the term. Astronomy and observation are their preferences, as they watch the universe evolve.

    Strategists
    These were the closest thing that the Virtuals had to a military order along with the hackers; when war broke out with the Concretes they used their capacity to view the universe and plan the war as a single, enormous entity.

    Technologists
    Pleased with the technical advance of virtualization, the Technologists sought, as electronic beings, ways to further improve the infrastructure and processes of their new society.

    Logic and math systems
    A powerful sub-branch of the Technologists, these Virtuals attacked historical and theoretical questions of math and logic. While they were in some ways similar to the Intellectuals, they were more focused on problem-solving than pure philosophy.

    Explorers
    These Virtuals were explorers in the physical sense of the term. With no further limits on planets that were or were not habitable, they sought to seek and visit all physical bodies in the universe.

    Hackers
    Presented with the ability to seek, discover, and build technology systems from the inside, this group of Hackers found virtualization to be the ultimate game and challenge.

    Esthetes
    This minor but highly distinctive group of Virtuals sought to use their new form to find and understand new experiences and cultural meanings.

    Pure Mind Movement
    A counterpart to the Pure Body movement, they used the new virtual identities to expand the abilities and scope of thought and intellect that was obtainable by a single conscious entity.

    Appreciators
    Focused on understanding both the physical and immaterial realms, the Appreciators sought to discover all new forms of art and expression, being particularly interested in a susceptible to any experience that came in wave forms.

    Tremblors (Sound/Music)
    Interested in any signal or message that came as a wave form in the old aural spectrum, the Tremblors continued these studies virtually in studying and sensing any wave form that had an acoustic / vibrational effect on physical things.

    Invisible Spectrum
    With their minds unburdened with the needs of the physical body to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ wavelengths limited to visible light, the adepts of the Invisible Spectrum sought out ways and systems to see and feel waves that travel through gravity and even time, composed of any sort of energy or particle.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:47 PM.

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    Side note: The Harmony

    The Harmony consists essentially of conscious crystalline mineral structures. There are several characteristics that differentiate The Harmony from other forms of life:
    1. It is possible that they pre-date the Endless. However, as they live in the voids between stars there has been little organized study of the species.
    2. As they are mineral, it is difficult to categorize them in terms of traditional definitions of "life." It should be said, however, that they appear to think, respond to stimuli, and move. Their ability to reproduce is unknown.
    3. They are largely indifferent to other life forms, as they do not compete for the same resources. They are more a force of nature than a conscious race that other sentient beings can interact with.
    4. Their goal and purpose, as nearly as we can tell, seems to be religious. What little communication has been done with them seems to indicate that they are seeking the "Core" of the universe; a place where the great resonating frequencies of stars, planets, matter, and energy chime in an apparently perfect harmony.
    The evolution of the factions
    Aside from the mystery of The Harmony, many millennia have passed since the time of the Endless and many races now have the ability to step across the great distances of space. It is inevitable that some of them meet up, for this corner of the universe is rich in stars, systems, and possibilities.

    United Empire
    - Though somewhat not very advanced scientifically, the humans of the United Empire are an eager and adaptable people. Their interest is in control and conquest, generally through corporations designated by the Emperor.
    - Their knowledge and understanding of the Endless is fairly limited; they have discovered traces of the past but view that civilization as an unsolved mystery. Certain groups within the faction, however, view the Endless with an almost mystical/religious fascination.
    - The United Empire is relatively new to space flight; they have had little experience outside their home system and at the beginning of Endless Space are preparing their first great steps across the void.


    The Cravers
    - The The Cravers was a creation of the Virtual Endless, intended as a weapon to hasten the destruction of the Concretes. Realizing nevertheless the risk that this species presented, the Virtuals bombed them back to the pre-industrial age and marooned them in a distant arm of the galaxy.
    - Given their relatively rapid and often managed evolution, the The Cravers eventually lifted themselves up to re-discover the secrets of interstellar flight. The biggest problem they have is their tendency to use Endless remains as food and energy, rather than studying them for their secrets. Their sense of recorded history and intellectual pursuits being weak at best, they feel no particular sense of vengeance toward the Endless. At the moment
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 01:35 PM.

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    Appendix 1: Ancient History

    This details some of the events that occurred that shaped the history of the intelligent species on Tor. Its purpose is background only.
    First Contact: Ear and Haduns
    Over time, the Ear habit of taming and using animals even extended to one of the most fearsome ones the Borers. They were used to tunnel into cliffs, extend streams and rivers to ease the movement of Ear hunting and exploration parties, and delve into the secrets of the ice packs.
    Uraya was an Ear scout and explorer, one of those who most loved the curiosity and danger of seeking the deepest depths, daring to move on dry land, and exploring the furthest recesses of the caves and caverns. To do this he made extensive use of docile Borers, these beasts being ideal companions for his voyages. One grim day, however, following underground streams along rocks warmed by a volcanic vent, Uraya and his mount exploded in a column of mud into the center of a Haduns village.
    Alerted by their young sentries, the vibrations of the signaling pebbles told the Haduns where to aim the spears on their iron-tipped ballistas. As Uraya broke the surface, he was thrown far by the thrashings of his agonized and dying mount. The last thing he saw was a circle of grim hunters, and had he known their language, he would have understood what they said:
    Look. They act under someones control.

    First Contact, Haduns and Tandu
    Content in their relatively easy equatorial cities, the Tandu engaged in limited exploration. It was the nomadic Haduns who first made large-scale contact with the Tandu, and they did it at the head of an army.
    Matuk Borer-bane was an inveterately aggressive, curious, and charismatic leader who traveled widely between towns of the Haduns across the frigid plains of the Vast North. She hunted all manner of beast, wearing bracelets of teeth from a White One and bearing a spear tipped with the beak of a borer. Made leader of a village, she committed the almost impossible act of convincing them to travel south to the legendary Warmlands, where water flowed in wide rivers and a great expanse of iceless ocean existed. Other villages joined her on the journey or were coerced into it; a necessity as the deaths from cold and starvation were great. Finally, after a slow, five-year migration, a band of stragglers pounced on an unsuspecting Tandu village. They discovered steel tools, windows of glass, garments of cloth, and new and exotic foods. And took them.
    The return trip was faster, and when samples of the goods were sent around to the towns of the Haduns a veritable horde returned eight years later, pillaging its way across an unprepared string of cities north of the equator. New governments were set up, tribal rules were enforced, and Matuk went to her grave as a name that would forever produce either pride or terror.
    What happened next, however, was almost inevitable. As the Haduns learned the ways of life of the Tandu, and saw how their ways of agriculture and living were adapted to their lands, and realized the relative comfort of climates where the rivers were free three months of the year, they were absorbed and became more citizens, less conquerors.
    Subsequent waves of Haduns came again over the centuries, and punitive expeditions marched to the grim Vast North in summer, but the two civilizations continued to develop while being aware of each other, if not necessarily allied.

    First Contact, Tandu and Ear
    The contact between these people was early and inevitable. Ear hunters in the shallows and Tandu fishermen acknowledged each others presence, and even traded on occasion. While the races were too alien to be friendly, they formed at least a nodding acquaintance and some curious thinkers and explorers among the Tandu studied the Ears intricate sign language. Semi-permanent and semi-submerged trade towns and rafts sprung up during the warmer seasons, and the two groups evolved in a spirit of mutual curiosity and indifference. After all, the only resource they shared was the sea, whose bounty was great enough for both.
    Famed as the first ambassador to the strange lands beneath the sea, Laheant Nohorur became a renowned diplomat and later was elected First-Among-Equals of the Torian World Government. His counterpart, Wheiaihon Tieund of the Ear, was a distinguished biologist whose name was taken as shorthand for environmentally sound development guidelines, known as teyuns.

    Industrialization
    A relatively stable equilibrium continued for a long time between these peoples. However, with the invention of coal power, steam power, and electricity, two major changes occurred:
    First, an ability to counter-act the severe winters caused an explosion in growth. From this point, full-scale industrialization began at a rapid pace, though the difficulty of exploiting the cold planet still kept the populations low. Increasing individual wealth did not prevent occasional conflicts, however, as the limited area that contained easily exploitable resources was always coveted by those who wanted more of it.
    Second, Tor came to know large-scale pollution. Its ecology was fragile, and industrialization put a heavy strain on the planet's natural resources. In particular, the fouling of the rivers and seaports led to the first full-scale conflict, between the Tandu and the Ear.

    The Great Coastal War
    Fought between shallow-water Ear (Gray Water Seventh Ridge People) and the Tandu of the United Midlands, it ended in a stalemate as it was simply too difficult for the two peoples to come to grips. Ear who came onto land were easily dealt with, and the Tandu did not yet have the technology to hunt the Ear in their native environment.
    The peace that was concluded was notable for its green nature; for the first time in the history of Tor we see what would be a repeated emphasis placed on managed and environmentally sound development. The teyuns were codified for the first time, and efforts were made to stem out-of-control industrialization.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:55 PM.

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    War of the Splintered Cities
    Several decades after the Great Coastal War, after three successive winters of unusually low temperatures, many of the more traditional Haduns villages, now grown to city-states, banded together to invade the Tandu nations. The action was rationalized by a series of fairly vague assumptions and accusations of a ‘right’ to scarce resources and an undesired ‘exile’ in the cold north.
    The invasions were initially successful, but control and momentum disappeared when several more reactionary armies—primarily those drafted from the cities of City-without-Summer, Cliff-of-the-Black-Vent, and Where-Ekata-Died—decided they should also go and punish the ‘Borer-riders’ as well. Whipped into a chauvinistic frenzy and now greatly over-extended, the addition of this particular second front not only robbed the Haduns of focus, but also made it impossible for them to transport anything by water. When tamed and telepathically driven giants of the deeps rose to break their ships, even the cannons and bombs of the Haduns army were inadequate.
    The war ended bloodily with a resounding defeat of the Haduns, but a generous peace was signed that included rights to water access at Crossroads-of-all-Peoples, a major river delta and trading seaport that was also the terminus of one of the great trade routes from the frozen interior.
    Modernisation
    As a relatively peaceful century followed the War of the Splintered Cities, Torian science exploded from late steam to electric and on to nuclear. Great leaps forward in the physical sciences and engineering came from the universities of the land-dwelling peoples, while the Ear studies of marine biology, reproduction, botany, and genetics also produced astounding results.
    Enormous undersea nuclear fission plants were built as joint projects, taking advantage of the frigid cold waters from the deepest seabed trenches to cool otherwise impossible levels of energy production. Studies in cryogenics were a natural for the Torians, given the nature of their planet and the myriad forms of life that dealt with phases of freezing and thawing.

    The Resource Wars
    Though the pace of industrialization was measured according to the teyuns and the Torians did their best to keep environmental destruction to a minimum, a time came when the planet’s surface was largely civilized and exploited. Vast cities had been tunneled that reached not only from the equatorial zones underground to the frozen north, but also plunged down into the seas via underwater habitats.
    The price of this eager, collective expansion was simple: by the time the races of Tor were exploring their solar system (six planets, two asteroid belts), the planet was largely out of natural resources. Key metals like strontium, gold, copper, lead, zinc, and tin were only available through recycling, and the pressure on arable land and fresh water supplies was extreme. Though power drawn from the wind and tides was plentiful, the stormy and violent weather made harvesting it difficult. In addition, a distant sun provided little solar energy.
    Small-scale conflicts over mineral contracts and rights started as mines grew deeper and began to traverse political boundaries. Tor began to see border skirmishes, police actions, and deniable operations occur to obtain ever-smaller amounts of ever-scarcer materials. The greatest single battle occurred when a large force of breather-equipped Ear emerged from armies of Borers and cloned leviathan pups to conquer the now-thriving city of Crossroads-of-all-Peoples. Within hours it was in their hands, and years of insurrection, repression, and civil war followed.
    Eventually the Ear relinquished much of the land-based parts of the city, and an uneasy peace reigned. But space and resources were at a premium, so they turned their eyes to the only place left. The Torians were driven to the stars by their desperate needs for raw materials, space, and energy.
    Last edited by SpaceTroll; 02-29-2012 at 12:55 PM.

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    Dust

    Origin

    "Dust" is the creation of a highly advanced race, the Endless, that traversed the galaxies tens of thousands of years before the gameplay begins. The Endless developed technology that was so advanced that they were able to upload their minds and consciousnesses into computers, thus gaining virtual immortality.

    Through their mastery of nano-engineering, the Endless created an infrastructure of nanobots and nano-computers to maintain their society. Some used these infinitesimally small machines to help maintain their biological bodies, while others used constructs of these nano-elements -- known collectively as "Dust" -- as virtual bodies once they uploaded themselves. The technology was sufficiently advanced to self-replicate itself and self-assemble. While individual motes of Dust had very limited computing power, the ability to 'talk' and network was built in. As a result, 'clouds' of Dust could form extremely sophisticated systems.

    However, while many of the Endless chose to become electronic consciousnesses, there were equally large numbers who kept to their bodies, gaining immortality instead through DNA manipulation, the use of dust to repair failing organs, cloning, etc. These two societies drifted apart, began to mistrust each other, championed different goals and uses of resources, and eventually fell into open conflict.
    • The "Virtuals" developed their versions of Dust to aid in communication and transport. It was refined to provide virtual bodies, pass electronic signals, collect and store energy, etc.
    • The "Concretes" developed Dust that excelled in manipulating the physical world: Improving building and transportation systems, attacking crop diseases, cleaning and sterilizing living spaces, etc.

    Uses

    Dust is valuable and versatile. During the time of the Endless it improved computing systems and networks, added intelligence to things that were usually 'dumb' (roads, buildings, tables, lights, clothing, etc.), and even locked itself together to form structures. Sufficiently large quantities of Dust could form networks and supercomputers; small quantities could assemble into cybernetic enhancements.

    The Endless came to rely upon Dust to the point where there civilization was almost symbiotic between life-forms and Dust. Their cities and ships contained enormous quantities of Dust; space stations and habitats were formed almost entirely from it.

    Today

    In the world of Endless Space, however, the Empires lack the ability of the Endless to understand and manipulate Dust. As the game goes on and technology improves, however, Dust will become increasingly useful as technologies are unlocked that allow Empires to better exploit it.

    On the other hand, because it is highly valuable and relatively easy to find (in this galaxy awash with the ruins of the Endless civilization), it has become the common currency of Endless Space. Like gold during the Age of Exploration, it is one thing that all societies, regardless of how different they are from each other, want and desire.
    Last edited by Slowhands; 03-08-2012 at 12:04 PM.
    We hold the future still timidly, but perceive it for the first time as a function of our own action.
    ― J.D. Bernal

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    Dev TeamEndless SpaceFirst WaveDisharmony
    That is quite a bit of lore!

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