Trope-a-Day: Our Dwarves Are All The Same

Our Dwarves Are All The Same: Mostly averted, by not actually being dwarves, of course – the azikeldrae are the same tall, beautiful, immortal, mad geniuses as the rest of their species, with the possible exception of the silvertouched, who have acquired a symbiotic contamination of Eliéran silverlife (i.e., feral and evolved descendants of Precursor nanites), and who can be picked out by the odd skin colors (from metal deposition) and occasional metallic strands in their hair and crystal or stone “freckles” caused by hosting these nonbiological lifeforms.  Also, the women are readily identifiable as such.  Also also, very few beards.

They are, however, descended from the people who moved underground to avoid the Winter of Nightmares (the result of the astrobleme of -14,500), and many of them still do so in adequately vast and echoing underground halls (or in asteroidal beehive colonies in space – just like home only without the gravity), having decided that they like it down there.

They do like technology, crafting, booze, wealth, and a bloody good fight against someone who deserves it, but much the same could be said about absolutely everyone else of their species, if not most of the Empire, so…

Trope-a-Day: Panspermia

Panspermia: Not proven in the general case, any more than it is today, and probably substantially less – different evolutionary trees and biochemistries surely look as if they had different origins.

Confirmed in some specific cases – Eliera, for example, derives its life from three sources: bluelife, which is very clearly descended from the native life of Revallá (Imperial Core); greenlife, of unknown but extraplanetary origin; and silverlife, descended from feral Precursor nanomachines – but then, Eliera is an artificial planet, so that’s to be expected.  And many garden worlds are the product of ancient terraforming, such as the many methane-based garden worlds in the vicinity of the Elmon Rift that were terraformed by the ancient and extinct methane-breather civilization that thrived there around 33 million years ago, and so possess life which obviously originated offworld.

But natural panspermia, or a common/intentional aliens-seeding-life origin?  Very much not proven, and looking increasingly unlikely.

In Many Shapes and Forms

The ecology of Eliéra is uniquely complex in the known Associated Worlds, since it is not, as most are, the product of either natural evolution, or ancient or modern ecopoesis.  Rather, a few unique survivals excepted, its ecology is a mixture of species from three separate origins and their coevolved descendants; referred to as bluelife, greenlife, and silverlife.  It is believed that the progenitors of these ecologies were transported to Eliéra during the tenure of the Precursor species, and in the case of bluelife and greenlife, that their descendants reflect those ecologies which were best fit to survive and adapt to the world in the absence of the Precursors and thus anyone to tend their gardens and biological preserves.

Both bluelife and greenlife are examples of oxygen-breathing ecologies using the common L-protein/lipid-D-carbohydrate biochemistry, with nucleic acid-based information-storage molecules; although the encoding used for these information-storage molecules differs greatly between the two classes.  There is considerable overlap in the specific compounds (amino acids, for example) used by the two classes, to a sufficient extent that heterotrophs and saprotrophs of both classes find the other edible, although in many cases lacking in some essential nutrients.  Indeed, some members of each class, including the sophont species of Eliéra, the eldrae, now naturally require some essential nutrients from each of the classes in their diet.  (The eldrae, among some other large animal species, are particularly notable for having adopted some symbiotic bluelife organelles into an essentially greenlife makeup, giving them their distinctive indigo blood.)

Bluelife, a class including a large number of non-cellular and single-celled organisms, also includes among its complex organisms the majority – around 85% of species – of Eliéra’s plant life (whose distinctive and predominant blue photosynthetic pigment is the source of the name of the class), a smaller percentage – around 75% of its species – of its animal life (including both scaled and furred hexapedal land animals, four-winged birds, duodecids, and tubefish), 90% of its fungi, and all of its algae and plankton.  It is strongly believed to consist of evolved and/or modified forms of life transplanted from the nearby world of Revallá, which used a near-identical biochemical substrate and set of body plans, the more so when Eliéra bluelife’s adaptations to coexistence with greenlife and, to some extent, silverlife are considered.

Greenlife also includes a large number of non-cellular and single-celled organisms, along with another 14% of Eliéra’s plant life (again, the green photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll, gave its name to the class), the remaining (with very few exceptions) 30% of its animal life (including both scaled and furred quadrupeds, two-winged birds, arachnids, cetaceans, and bony fish), and nearly 10% of its remaining fungi.  The origin of greenlife is unknown; no world currently known to the Imperial Exploratory Service appears to have a compatible ecology.

The final class of life on Eliéra is the silverlife, a class of lifeforms descended from what are believed to be a number of simple Precursor nanites which survived the destruction of the Precursor civilization, many of them mutated by radiation effects and evolved over time.  By far the vast majority of silverlife is composed of microscopic organisms of the crystallite and metallite kingdoms, of which the most notable are the saerymaharvéi, descended from simple assemblers and responsible for the many crystal deposits and outcroppings across the surface of Eliéra.

Silverlife also includes some simple macroscopic organisms, including some silicate pseudo-plants found in sunlit, rocky areas of appropriate compositions (most prominent are cikril, which forms tall, slender columns of translucent crystals, charged with photoelectricity, and cikrieth, a swamp-dwelling variety of cikril which extracts materials from seawater and forms intertwined resource-sharing complexes), and some colonial organisms roughly analogous to slime molds.  These together make up the remaining 1% of Eliéra’s plant species, and 0.5% of its fungi.

Silverlife in general has many aspects and features in common with the lower lifeforms of Galáré, the homeworld of the galari; while the evidence suggesting their origin in Precursor nanotechnology remains convincing, scientists are studying the possibility of a link between known Precursor nanotechnology and the ecosystem of this world.

– An Introduction to Eliéran Biology, Imperial University of Almeä Press

Trope-a-Day: Crystal Spires and Togas

Crystal Spires and Togas: Well, the Imperials have the crystal spires down.  Although, a little unusually, this wasn’t the follow-on from the “big, shiny, and sciency!” period (that is happening simultaneously) – it’s just that the saerymaharvéi silverlife, descendants of Precursor materials-processing nanites, left the surface of Eliera scattered with giant readily-accessible lumps of crystal right from day one.  The school of architecture stuck, intermingled with art deco, the closely related Gernsback style, a soupçon of (often literally) organic designs, and highly polished steampunk/clockpunk/electropunk in-your-face mechanism, even when it’s really ultratech with “holographic” interfaces.  With big chrome fins.

Note: this is not a Gilded Age.  That’s hammered gold, you philistine.

There are not, however, togas.  Also, the technology isn’t all that so-subtle-it-can’t-be-seen; sleek and shiny it may be, but it’s almost as obvious as in Steampunk.  Imperials like their tech.

See also: Everything Is An iPod In The Future.