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The Politics of Space Travel
1. The first thing you need to know is this: in our version of the universe, Warp Drive Doesn't Exist. No wormholes, no stargates, no faster than light travel at all. The Speed of Light seems to be a brick wall. Want to travel from Earth to Alpha Centauri (@ 4.3 light-years away)? The best you could possibly do is to borrow a Lycanth Huntership, the fastest fuel-recycler on this side of the galaxy. And, it'll still take you five years to get from here to there.
Communication is only slightly faster. There's no "sub-space". No short-cuts. Information can be transmitted at the Speed of Light, but no faster. So if all you want to do is send a message to Alpha Centauri, they'll receive the call a mere 4.3 years after you've placed it. Of course, they're response is gonna take another 4.3 years, but what can you do?
The Galaxy, of course, is vast. So if an extraterrestrial race wants to come to our world, it's gonna take them some time. Now some alien species have a relatively long life span. If necessary, these voyagers have the option of sitting through the long, long boring trip. Others are left with only two choices: Sleep-Ships and City-Ships (or a combination of both).
A Sleep-Ship puts its occupant in cryo-stasis for the bulk of the journey. Computers and automatons run the ship, waking the sleepers upon arrival or in case of emergency. Sleep-Ships are used when the individual traveler is important. Of course, Sleep-Ships have certain disadvantages. To begin with, you're counting on machines to make crucial and complex decisions while you sleep. Also, you never know what you're going to find when you arrive, let alone what the situation might be like when you get back. Say you want to visit a planet two hundred light years away. You board a Sleep-Ship and go into stasis. You wake up, refreshed, two hundred and twenty five years later. No problem. It only seems like a few minutes to you. You take a two week vacation on the alien world and then reboard your Sleep-Ship for the return voyage. Two hundred and twenty-five years later, you're back on the old homeworld. Problem is, a lot can change in 450 years. Everyone you knew is almost certainly dead. Potentially, the entire planet might be dead.
By contrast, a City-Ship creates an environment where a community can live, thrive and evolve during the long journey. Crew members will mate, procreate, age and eventually die. Their offspring will mate, procreate, age and eventually die. And so on. The idea isn't for any individual to arrive at the destination, but for an entire society to arrive. Adaptation is built into the process. Plus the culture is brought along for the ride. There's less of a need to return to the old world. City-Ships tend to be favored for colonization.
Often, City-Ships have cryo-stasis capabilities. Individuals are placed in cryo-stasis at the beginning of a voyage and awakened periodically to make sure that the City-Ship's society hasn't gotten too far off track. This also sounds like a better idea in theory then it winds up being in practice. Inevitably, there tends to be some conflict (sometimes violent conflict) between the sleeping population and the descendants of the original crew. Call it a generational gap.
2. The second thing you need to know about the universe is that habitable planets are not a dime a dozen. The reason Earth is a destination resort for all these alien species is because it's a relatively primitive, unspoiled and/or exploitable location that is capable of sustaining life as we know it. And because there aren't a lot of better alternatives out there.
Again, the universe is vast. Our Milky Way Galaxy is pretty dang immense all by itself. Somewhere out there, there must be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of habitable planets each filled with one or more sentient alien species. But forget about that, because they're just too darn far away for us to worry about.
We're not going to meet 100 different alien species. In the 22 hours of programming we're planning, we won't even meet 22 separate species. That doesn't mean we won't be introducing a new species here and there. But when we do, it's a momentous event. In our first few episodes -- as we introduce all the various concepts -- it might seem like we're doing alien-of-the-week. But it'll soon be clear that's not the case. We're NOT doing alien-of-the-week.
Our series is basically a THRILLER. Sure we have scary monsters, great action, humor, romance and lots of neato gear. But the intrigue, the machinations, is going to be what sets us apart from our many competitors.
The Sidhe were the first extraterrestrials to arrive on our world and stay. They landed in a single City-Ship in the year 527 B.C. Sidhe have a life span of approximately two hundred years. Do the math, and you'll realize that there isn't a Sidhe living on the planet who wasn't born here. They believe that Earth is their home. They believe that certainly they have as much of a right to be here as native humans. Their homeworld, if it still exists at all, is a distant memory.
The Sidhe did not come here to conquer our planet, but to carve out a life for themselves on our frontier world. They were always happy to coexist with humans, in the same way they'd coexist with a bear, rabbit or honeybee. But times have changed.
The Sidhe are a race more of energy than of matter. Through concentration and training, they are capable of coalescing their energy into a more solid human form. They can pass as either Tall Women or Short Men. (Sidhe society is matriarchal. Women are Sidhe Warriors. Men, who are objectively the weaker sex physically, are not treated as equals.)
Today, the Sidhe live among humans (mostly in the British Isles, France and Canada), but secretly maintain their tight-knit clans. Each clan is ruled by a Matriarch known as the Barrow Sidhe, and each Barrow reports to the Bhan Sidhe. The current Bhan Sidhe is Siobhan's mother RAEBHAN, (pronounced rah-VAWN) daughter of Moerbhan, daughter of Obraebhan, daughter of Maebhan, etc.
The Sidhe currently have a treaty with the Alliance that places strict limits on their Expansion. Travel is restricted. New clans may not be initiated. Human forms must always be worn in public. Despite the harshness of the terms, today's Alliance generally considers the Sidhe to be a tough, but honorable race. Occasionally, an individual Warrior might create some problems, but in general the Sidhe keep to themselves and cause little trouble.
The Nosferatu departed NOSFERATCH, their over-populated home planet, in search of new worlds to conquer. They traveled in a Giant City-Ship called THE VAMPYRCH. A percentage of The Vampyrch's crew were put in cryo-stasis. The rest were left awake to handle whatever crisis might arise.
Nosferatu have a life span of approximately 100 years. But the Voyage of The Vampyrch was a long one. It seemed like there was always a new solar system just around the corner that was bound to have a promising planet or two. But no. Nothing. For centuries and centuries... Nothing. Aboard The Vampyrch, new Nosferatu were born and old ones died. Meanwhile the rest slept in stasis. The centuries slid by.... And nothing.
Then finally, they found Earth. The sleeping Nosferatu were brought out of stasis in the year 744 A.D. But they found that they no longer had much in common with their descendants aboard The Vampyrch.
Today's Nosferatu are the descendants of the Nosferatu brought out of stasis upon arrival on our world. They are tall creatures that move upright on snake-like tails instead of legs. They have long necks and long arms, with long tapered hands and long tapered fingers. They look like nothing so much as human cobras, complete with a cobra's hood. Passing for human is possible, but difficult. The tail must be hidden under robes or long capes. The hood must be decorated to look like a piece of clothing as opposed to an organic body part. And even then it had better be dark, if you don't want the average human to scream.
Of course, the average human would have reason to scream. Nosferatu feed on blood, and they are bent on the conquest of our world. Really, the only thing that has stopped them is their limited numbers. Nosferatu have a life span of approximately 100 years, and they are hardly a prolific race. Nosferatu are asexual and reproduce asexually in a process that has more in common with cloning then anything we would call conception.
In addition, the Nosferatu have no desire to repeat the mistakes of The Vampyrch. So even today, here on this world, they take turns going into and out of cryo-stasis, so that they never again lose track of their mission of conquest. It is therefore possible to have a seven hundred year old Nosferatu standing next to a seventy year old Nosferatu. In either case, guessing their ages would be extremely difficult, as Nosferatu shed their skin periodically, remaining perpetually youthful in appearance, no matter how old they are internally.
The Nosferatu are always led by the oldest Nosferat currently not in stasis. The leader of the moment is eighty-three year old SAVET, born a good couple thousand years ago on Nosferatch. His second-in-command is his twenty year old son SAVETRE, who looks almost exactly like his father.
The Alliance is aware of the Nosferatu, and consider them to be the greatest alien menace on the planet. At the first clue to Nosferatu whereabouts or activity, the Alliance will mobilize to crush their primary opponent. Most of the Nosferatu currently live in Eurasia, but they have secret embassies all over the world.
Over the centuries that The Vampyrch was traveling the galaxy, the inhabitants who were not in cryo-stasis adapted. They learned to control the shedding of their skin, in order to alter their appearance. By the time The Vampyrch landed on Earth, these new generation Nosferatu had little in common with the ancient cousins that were brought out of cryo-stasis. Conquest was no longer a priority. After centuries cooped up in a ship, the planet Earth seemed to offer a cornucopia of delights. The newly awakened old-style Nosferatu tried to get the new crowd back in line, but they refused. Taking the name Vampyru, this new race dedicated itself to it's own pursuit of choice: Pleasure.
The Vampyru are heavy-duty hedonists. They still drink blood to sustain their lives and because, hey, it's a laugh. But they've developed a palate for food and drink as well. They are a very sensuous and sensual race. They still reproduce asexually, but by shedding their skin, a Vampyr can easily blend into human society. It helps that the race has evolved a pair of legs, but any individual Vampyr can also be male or female, old or young, black or white -- and then start over again the next day. With a bit of study and practice, they can even pose as a specific human and attempt to take that person's place.
Vampyru and Nosferatu: there's no love lost between these cousins. The Nosferatu regard the Vampyru as frivolous traitors and have vowed to someday make them toe the line. For their part, the Vampyru like the status quo. Traditionally, they've maintained an active interest in thwarting the conquest schemes of the Nosferatu.
None of this means that the Alliance and the Vampyru are buddies.
The Vampyru think of Earth as their own personal playground. Naive humans peacefully go about their business in a blissful state of ignorance. The Vampyru can pick and choose their victims, practically on demand. Playground, nothing: it's a candy store.
The Alliance is NOT o.k. with that. The problem is that the very nature of the Vampyru make it nearly impossible to track them down. They have no leader. No society. They've simply scattered to the four corners of the world to follow their individual appetites.
Both the Nosferatu and the Vampyru secrete a drug in their saliva which can temporarily enslave a once-bitten human.
Frankly, the Lycanth are just all over the place. They come; they go. They come back again; they go away again. The first Lycanth on Earth probably pre-date the Sidhe. But they didn't stay. Not as a group. Trouble with the Lycanth is that they have short life spans. They mature quickly; a four year old Lycanth is fully grown. But they're slowing down by age ten. A twenty year old Lycanth is a rarity. You can see their dilemma. It's hard to set long-term policy when one's life tends toward the short term.
Thus by definition, the Lycanth (males and females) live life in the fast lane. They build fast and efficient Sleep-Ships, and they travel a lot, usually in packs. They hunt. They breed -- prolifically. They fight among themselves for power. They make war against their enemies. They are a highly aggressive species. Life is short, so they make it one big adventure.
The Lycanth are DNA-adapters. When a compatible DNA sample is introduced into an individual Lycanth's system, he or she can incorporate the new structure into his or her own matrix, allowing the Lycanth to morph from one biological structure to another or even to create combination forms from whatever DNA he or she has had access to. In simple terms, a Lycanth can look human one minute and then transform into a bear. Or a wolf. Or a large bat. Or a Yeti. Or a wolf-bat. Or a wolf-man. Or a bear-Lycanth. Or a Yeti-rabbit. Etc. Gender remains the same. So does mass, though volume can change within reason. Because mass remains constant, and because the average Lycanth is actually 25% larger than the average human, a Lycanth posing as a human is going to be denser than a true human. On the other hand, a Lycanth posing as a Yeti is going to be considerably lighter than average. Lycanth seem to be able to DNA-adapt any mammalian species. That includes humans, Yeti, gorillas, dolphins, etc. But it doesn't include the reptilian Nosferatu and Vampyru, nor does it include the Sidhe, who may have once been mammals, but have evolved beyond that into a complex hybrid of matter and energy. Lycanth transformations require some effort and are painful. A Lycanth is vulnerable during his or her transformation, but recovery time is swift.
Among their other lovely traits, the Lycanth are slavers. To the Lycanth, Earthlings look like profitable slaves. So even at their least organized, the Lycanth are constantly showing up, abducting humans, sticking them in cryo-sleep and taking off again. At least that's what they would be doing if the Alliance wasn't around to stop them.
The Qua-Yeti are a powerful but peaceful people. Once upon a time, on their homeworld, the white-furred Qua lived out their primitive existence in the high mountains. Then the Lycanth arrived. They took one look at the Yeti and realized they had hit a slave trader's jackpot. The Yeti had no knowledge of technology. They possessed phenomenal physical strength and they could survive, even thrive, in temperatures and conditions that few other races (or even machines) could endure. The Lycanth enslaved hundreds of Yeti and took them to other worlds. But some of these slaves were quick studies. Yearning for their freedom, the Yeti learned how to use the Lycanth's technology. They bided their time. Unlike their short-lived masters, Yeti's have been known to live for 1000 years. When the time was right, they rebelled, escaping the Lycanth in stolen Sleep-Ships. Unfortunately, the Yeti were too large to fit inside Lycanth stasis chambers. So they had to endure decades of space travel in lonely cramped isolation. Returning to their homeworld would have been hopeless: the Lycanth had completely overrun the place. So they chose another destination where the Lycanth were not in full control. In the year 1780, a small group of about forty Qua-Yeti landed on Earth. They made their way to the Himalayan Mountains. They're still there, for the most part, about a hundred of them now. Males, females, children. The Qua-Yeti have a treaty with the Alliance. They remain in hiding in the Himalayas, and the Alliance leaves them alone.
The Chasta come from the same planet as the Qua. Where the white-furred Qua lived in the high mountains and polar regions, the brown-furred Chasta lived in the low hills, forests and plains. Long before the Lycanth discovered the Qua, they had enslaved nearly the entire Chasta population. When the Qua rebelled, the Chasta rebelled with them, but they had already endured ten times the hardship of the Qua. The Chasta may have been peaceful once upon a time, but now they are a belligerent, even paranoid race. The Chasta also arrived on Earth in 1780. They hid in deep forests, on mountains and in jungles that were once nearly devoid of human life. Now humanity encroaches. The Chasta-Yeti also have a treaty with the Alliance, but the Alliance knows that the Chasta are less content than their Qua cousins.
The Skray are an amphibious alien race that have been here for ninety years. The Alliance has no idea that the Skray even exist. No idea that our oceans are filling with Skray fortresses and little Skray hatchlings. Surprise!
The Pharaoh are travelers, historians. A peaceful race. They are also radioactive. And vaguely cadaverous in appearance. To protect the native races they visit, they wear containment suits that once upon a time inspired the ancient Egyptians and Peruvians to try their hand at mummification. The Alliance believes that the benevolent Pharaoh haven't been on Earth for a few centuries.
The Vinae are a silicon-based lifeform. They look vaguely demonic, with stony visages, large bat-shaped wings, horns and haunches. When a Vinae dies, its body hardens. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a Vinae corpse and a stone gargoyle. The Alliance is therefore unaware that the nomadic Vinae have periodically visited our world.
The Graymen are the fictional aliens created by the Alliance as part of the Roswell Conspiracy. Or so we've been led to believe....
In 1942, while the human world was in the midst of its most horrible war, four alien races entered into a devil's agreement to form a Cadre. These races were the Nosferatu, the Lycanth, the Chasta-Yeti and the Sidhe. Their plan was to use the chaos of World War II to take the planet and divide it amongst themselves.
Perhaps the plan was doomed from the start. Each race had a very different reason for participating in the Cadre. The Nosferatu saw it as their big chance to finally conquer the world. The Sidhe, disgusted with humanity's petty but devastating wars, simply wanted to set Earth's affairs in order. The Chasta-Yeti felt that the humans were inadvertently leaving them with no other alternative. Already, the ancient forests were vanishing, leaving the Chasta with nowhere to go. The Lycanth were just greedy for spoils, and spoiling for a fight.
Once Burdette discovered the Cadre's existence, it was relatively easy to sew dissension within its ranks. How hard could it be to convince the Sidhe that the Nosferatu wouldn't want to share power, when in fact the Nosferatu didn't want to share power? How hard could it be to convince the Chasta that the Lycanth were simply exploiting them in a new and different way, when the Chasta had centuries of experience suffering under Lycanth exploitation? How hard could it be to trick the Vampyru into undercutting the Cadre's plans, when the Vampyru already hated the Nosferatu and were determined not to let them take the planet? How hard could it be to draft the Qua-Yeti to talk some sense into the Chasta when both races faced similar challenges, but both races would clearly gain few tangible benefits under Nosferatu or Lycanth domination? How hard could it be to convince the Sidhe that being a part of the Cadre was a dishonor to their proud warrior traditions, when the Sidhe basically knew that already? How hard could it be?
O.K., it was a little hard. But it could have been a lot worse. In September, 1945, the Sidhe pulled out of the Cadre and agreed to stay neutral. The Chasta-Yeti joined with the Qua-Yeti, luring the Lycanth and Nosferatu to the Himalayas and a joint Yeti/Alliance ambush. The Lycanth HunterPack was all but wiped out. The Nosferatu, whose forces had been infiltrated by Vampyru impostors, were also decimated. They scurried back under their rocks with their tails between their legs. (Well, they don't have legs, but you get the idea.)
To top it off, the Battle of the Himalayas was immediately followed by a mini-war between the Vampyru and the Nosferatu that further thinned out the ranks of both races.
All in all, it was a stunning victory for the Alliance and (an ignorant) humanity.
It would take decades for the Nosferatu, Lycanth and even the Vampyru to build up their numbers again, let alone form any significant opposition to the Alliance.
The Sidhe, the Chasta-Yeti and the Qua-Yeti were all more or less coerced into signing one-sided treaties.
And the Alliance was sitting pretty.
Since then, operatives of the Alliance have faced numerous aliens. Numerous individual aliens. The occasional Pack of Lycanth Hunters. Every so often, an embassy full of Nosferatu. A Vampyru couple, a rogue Sidhe or a Chasta gone berserk. Not to imply that all these aliens aren't extremely dangerous, but let's be honest... The Alliance has had it easy.
Since 1945, they've never faced any organized alien opposition. By the time the year 2000 hits, the Alliance is going to be looking back on the twentieth century as the good old days. Because things are about to change. Things are about to get nasty.
It's taken decades to recover from the Cadre debacle. Soon the time will come to strike. The same mistakes will not be made again. It doesn't take a World War and an alien coup to take over the planet. All it takes is an AGENDA and a little bit of patience.
There's still a need to gather allies, but it's going to be easier this time. And one big reason it's going to be easier is the Alliance itself. The Sidhe and the Chasta don't like their treaties. And nobody likes the Alliance's policy of Containment. The Alliance itself has inadvertently created the greatest threat to humanity's existence: a rallying point, a common enemy to every alien on Earth. It's the Agenda vs. the Alliance in a fight to the finish. I'll say it again. Things are about to get nasty.