The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New book online

I finished and published Hostile Waters. Its one in what may eventually be a series of books about the fighting in North America between 1913 and 1916 (it's a different Great War from the one in AHN). I even sold a copy before I posted that I finished it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Admission into the Union

Something I salvaged from the original AHN. I plan on using it for some other projects, like 32nd State and the Great War battlefield. A couple of notes; Kansas was admitted as a slave State due to the Kansas-Nebraska Compromise. Durango is the only southern State to not originally be a slave State, though it was forced into the CSA. That threw off the whole free-slave balance in the Senate which led to a later Civil War. A couple have N/A in the admission date slot; those were territories first admitted as States in the CSA, and thus joined the Union after the Restoration.

1) Delaware (DE): 12/7/1787
2) Pennsylvania (PE): 12/12/87
3) New Jersey (NJ): 12/18/87
4) Georgia (GE): 1/2/88 (12/15/1932)
5) Connecticut (CT): 1/9/88
6) Massachusettes (MA): 2/6/88
7) Maryland (MD): 4/28/88
8) South Carolina (SC): 5/23/88 (7/13/1937)
9) New Hampshire (NH): 6/12/88
10) Virginia (VI): 6/25/88
11) New York (NY): 7/26/88
12) North Carolina (NC): 12/21/89 (6/13/32)
13) Rhode Island (RI): 5/29/90
14) Vermont (VT): 3/3/91 -F
15) Iroquois (IQ): 11/15/91 -F
16) Kentucky (KY): 6/1/92 -S
17) Tennessee (TN): 6/1/93 (4/5/1933) -S
18) Ohio (OH): 3/1/1800 –F
19) Louisiana (LO): 4/30/12 (10/10/1935) –S
20) Indiana (IN): 12/11/16 –F
21) Mississippi (MS): 12/10/17 (6/14/1938) –S
22) Illinois (IL): 12/3/18 –F
23) Alabama (AL): 12/14/19 (6/14/1938) –S
24) Maine (ME): 3/15/20 –F
25) Missouri (MR): 8/10/21 –S
26) Arkansas (AK): 6/15/36 (2/15/1929) –S
27) Michigan (MI): 1/27/37 –F
28) Florida (FL): 3/3/45 (5/12/1938) –S
29) Texas (TX): 12/29/45 (12/19/1931) –S
30) Wisconsin (WI): 5/29/48 –F
31) California (CA): 9/9/50 -F
32) Cuba (CU): 7/14/51 (7/18/1924) -S
33) Iowa (IO): 12/28/51 –F
34) Sonora (SO): 6/6/52 (8/21/29) –S
35) Chihuahua (CH): 5/5/55 (7/17/20) –S
36) Minnesota (MN): 5/11/55 –F
37) Kansas (KN): 1/29/58 –S
38) Nebraska (NB): 4/12/58 –F
39) Oregon (OR): 2/14/59 –F
40) Durango (DU): 6/7/59 (12/26/19) –F
41) Nevada (NV): 4/12/64 –F
42) Costa Rica (CR): 8/12/69 –F
43) Lakota (LK): 11/2/89
44) Montana (MT): 11/8/89
45) Washington (WA): 11/11/89
46) Idaho (ID): 7/4/90
47) Wyoming (WY): 7/10/90
48) Utah (UT): 1/4/96
49) Arizona (AZ): 1/30/1909
50) Jefferson (JE): N/A (7/22/30)
51) Cascadia (CS): 8/15/33
52) Oklahoma (OK): N/A (12/7/41)

53) Oahu (OA)
54) Bahamas (BA)

55) Marianas (MX)

Order of admission) State (abr): admission date -slave/free (readmission)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Magic of the Stardust Sequence (basics)

Magic in the Stardust Sequence is divided into six elements: fire, water, wind, earth, sun and life. Users who specialize in any of the elements are identified by the color of robes they wear:

red = fire
blue = water
white = wind
brown= earth
yellow = sun
green = life

Thus a Red Mage would be use fire magic, a Green Mage use life magic, etc.

Society's view of magic varies from world to world. On some worlds magic users are outcasts and often hunted down. Obviously, anyone hunting a mage would have problems if they ever ran into a mage of real power. Try to imagine Dark Age Europe, when witches were burned at the stake. How well would the Inquisition fair against a witch that actually had power.

On other worlds, magic is the domain of religious orders. On Mylo and Apocalypse, mages are the priests. None are born with any power, and spend a great deal of time studying the art and meditating. Casting spells in these instances is not that different from praying.

I can imagine magic on more technologically advanced worlds. Those might have regulatory agencies where mages would have to register. Now that sort of system is just a big box of trouble waiting to be opened.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gentle Giants

Homo giganticus

            Homo giganticus, commonly known as Ogres, stand at 2.5 meters in height and have a mass of nearly two hundred kilograms. In the most ancient of days, before the Atlantians even left the Homeworld, Ogres were engineered as both guards and soldiers. It was hoped that they could protect continental territories from the wild humans, or perhaps to even help conquer them and bring all of the Homeworld under Atlantian control. They were successfully engineered to be large, and their pudgy faces look fearsome, however, the production of soldiers was not a success. Ogres were made large, but do to a limited understanding (at the time) of the human genome, ogres were also made docile. The Atlantians made the mistake of assuming there was one hundred thousand genes in something as complex as a human, as opposed to only around 25% of that. They also assumed each gene did one thing, instead of combinations of the same genes doing different things. They changed one thing about the ogres, and that had unintended consequences. Though they will defend themselves and their children, ogres are quite non-aggressive. Though they were made as soldiers, they simply wished to live their lives in peace.
   Their large size, produced by inserting a gene that causes gigantism, also reduces their natural lifespan to forty years, though increasing standards of living and medical technology can extend this up to sixty years (this must be noted as the exception, not the rule). Though ogres can live beyond forty, they would be considered elders, similar to a sapien of over sixty. Ogres are mostly farmers, but when conditions turn unfavorable they will move into cities in search of work. Despite their fearsome appearances, ogres are rather friendly and sociable. Their looks and dimensions tend to put off other species of humanity from interacting with them. They are also fiercely loyal. If a friend is in trouble, an ogre will drop everything to go to their aid.
     Ogre families rarely extend beyond two generation within a household. Those ogres who live past forty are considered honored elders, and tend serve as mayors and councils while the younger ogres work. Though they are still physically able to work, ogre society values the elder’s life experiences, and believes the honored elders could best serve the community by guiding it, and hopefully preventing younger ogres from making the same mistakes as the elders. Despite their friendly nature, ogres disperse and live in individual houses. As soon as the young are old enough to give back to their community, they leave their parents and either move in, or build their own housing. Their size makes having large groups living together rather crowded.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Masked strangers

Homo Aureus

            The Ancient Atlantians were masters of genetic engineering. They created the Giganticus (a relative failure) around AY 1700. Almost two thousand years later, they created the pygmaeus (a success). In both instances, they were creating new species of humans to suit their purpose. The case of Aureus, commonly known as the elf, was of a group of sapiens attempting to improve themselves. Atlantians had always used engineering in future generation. Middle Class Atlantians used the technology to alter their own offspring’s’ DNA before they were born, eliminating diseases and traits society (culturally speaking) deemed undesirable. The elves were different. The wealthy of Atlantis sought a way to make themselves perfect, starting in the 26th Atlantian Century. Their immune systems can knock aside diseases that would incapacitate a sapien.
     The average elf stands the same height as a sapien. However, they are slender in build, a sign of dignity and nobility to the Ancients, and a sort of ideal physique. Their DNA was altered to extend their lifespans to over two hundred fifty years. Elves also age far slower than any other species of humanity. Their faces have high cheek bones, prominent noses, and a generally arrogant look. Their skin is smooth and rarely blemished. For other species of humans, these traits are largely assumed as elves are in the habit of wearing metallic masks when dealing with non-elves. From their view, non-elves were unworthy of looking upon the perfection of the “golden ones”.  The type of mask worn is also a status symbol. Wealthy and prominent elves wear masks of gold or platinum possibly studded with jewels; while the poorest of elves wear ones of shinning bronze or light-weight aluminum give sufficient technology to produce the metal.
   Despite their light build, elves are strong. They might not have large muscles, but all they do have are very highly toned. They are also quick, easily the swiftest of all humans. Elves value athletics and appearance. Elves are vein by nature, and quickly judge others by the way that they look. Elf society is also generally aristocratic, where which family one is born into usually determines their future.
   Elves have generated around themselves a culture that declares they are superior to other sapiens. This has not endured them to their neighbors. The fact that elves are generally seen to stand for wealth, royalty, fat cats, and every other thing that is viewed as wrong with humanity, drives other species away from them. Elves live in self-segregation. However, since elves dislike manual labor, those that do not have a highly automated industry, must allow guest workers into their borders. This usually leads to the elves being overwhelmed by those they view as beneath them. Elves can be viewed with simply contempt, or severe hostility. The later tends to lead towards genocidal thoughts and the eventual extermination of Aureus from a specific location.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dwarves and/or gnomes.

Homo pygmaeus
            The pygmaeus species consists of two races; the dwarves and the gnomes. Centuries after ogres were created, the Atlantians engineered workers who could tolerate high gravity and toxic airs (pygmaeus can tolerate higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide will not kill them nearly as fast as a sapien) that often are associated with worlds very rich in mineral wealth. Pygmaeus typically stand about chest-high to their sapien counterparts, at about 1.3-1.5 meters in height, and have masses similar to sapiens. The pygmaeus is short, and stout, and most of that stoutness in muscle, and were engineered to last; their natural lifespans stretch to two hundred fifty years. Unlike sapiens (off Earth) pygmaeus have facial hair, and the men almost always grow beards.

            Pygmaeus live to work, literally. So perfect was the genetic engineering, that pygmaeus only feel comfortable while working. Because they were made to extract minerals (be miners) pygmaeus make their homes underground, in cliff faces and inside mountains. The pygmaeus life cycle goes something like this:

0-20) Youth; this is the time when the pygmaeus grows to adulthood, and is spent learning academics. Pygmaeus graduate from basic schooling by the age of twenty. Even when young, pygmaeus appear overly serious and uptight to other species of humanity. They treat games the same way as work; if you are not going to do it right, then do not even bother.

20-50) Parenthood; because they are human, albeit a different species, there is a limited period in their life that the females are capable of bearing children. Pygmaeus pass their genes on as soon as they leave schooling. Dwarves will bear between one and four children, whatever is required to maintain a steady, and viable population. Like everything else in life, pygmaeus take raring children seriously, more so than anything else. However, once the child (or children) reaches 20 years of age, their parents move on to the next stage of pygmaeus lives.

50 onward) Professional; after the children are out on their own, producing their own children, pygmaeus commence a lifetime working. While raising their children, pygmaeus have jobs, and continue studying, not perfecting their field of choice until around fifty. Once children are off on their own, pygmaeus focus all their energy on what they were designed to do; work.

            Pygmaeus have no concept of retirement, as their instincts (programed by their designers) will not allow them to not contribute to society. Which is doubly good in the case of city-ships; there is no retirement in space. There is little a pygmaeus likes less than being idle, and have little tolerance for freeloaders. The necessary evil of any society is government and administration. The way pygmaeus choice their leaders is by election. These are quite different from sapien elections. When pygmaeus vote, they tend to nominate one of the group, usually the one paying the least attention, ask for a second, and then vote. Heads of companies and guilds are elected, but not in the same way as politicians. In business, pygmaeus must work their way to the top, and their corporate society is a meritocracy. In either political or business worlds, the pygmaeus elected does not want the job, but by their nature, they will do their best at it.

            The pygmaeus mindset is very logical, very analytical. Both gnomes and dwarves are also extremely stubborn, only changing when they want (of decide it must be) and will not adapt to another way of doing things easily. Because of this, pygmaeus take far longer to assimilate into a culture than either sapien or ogre. Because they live for over two hundred years, an extended pygmaeus family can contain several generations. Pygmaeus families do stay in contact, but their working nature keeps them spread out. Pygmaeus tend to live alone after the age of fifty. However, if two parents are of the same profession, and sufficiently tolerate each other, it has been known for these pairs to stay together for life.

            The main difference between dwarves and gnomes come down to two sayings. Dwarves believe that if it is not broken, then one should not fix it. Dwarves tend to stay with tried and true paths, and though they innovate, they only invent when needed. They tend to refine their proven method over a great deal of time. Gnomes believe that there is always a better way. They tend to constantly improve their ways of doing things. On average, gnomes tend to stick with development and research, while dwarves stick with industries. However, dwarves can be scientist and gnomes can be miners. Once a pygmaeus picks a profession, they stick with it for life. Pygmaeus are passionate about their pursuits and will dive into them with single-minded drive. A dwarven work ethic is a compliment, or a way of saying one works too much; pygmaeus take great pride in their occupations and creations. The biggest insult to any pygmaeus is to call them a cheat. Contracts with pygmaeus are simple enough affairs with the dwarf or gnome wanting little more than a hand shake and a good word. Pygmaeus react extremely violently when this trust is broken.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Little green men


Origin: Goblins and Gremlins originated in the Small Magellanic Cloud, same as the dragons. 20 million years ago, gobli were spread out across a handful of systems when they were discovered by the dragons. Seeing the gobli were far more dexterous and capable, the dragons sought to conquer and domesticate the gobli. When the gobli were conquered, the dragons employed them in their industry as ‘beasts of burden’. When dragons set out to colonize a new world, they took gobli with them to build what limited infrastructure the dragons (who never lived in cities and required large tracks of territory with prey to sustain themselves) required to stay in contact with its other worlds. When the Dragon’s homeworld and other core worlds were destroyed by a Gamma Ray Burst, dragons and gobli alike found themselves scattered across two satellite galaxies along with the Main Galaxy. This is why goblins are spread out across so many worlds; they were planted there when dragons arrived.

Size: Goblins stand not much more than one meter in height, usually to stomach level on a typical sapien. They are not much more massive than the average sapien child.

Head: Their heads are triangular in shape with flappy triangular ears (like long dog ears) a large nose, reddish eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. These teeth are deceiving as both species of gobli are strictly herbivores. These teeth are used to slice plant matter, perhaps tough leaves from their ancient, and lost, homeworld. Their second types of teeth, in the back of their jaws, are used to grind their food.

Limbs: Gobli hands and feet end with five digits. On each tip is a claw-like nail.

Color: Goblins in general are a light green in color, with a smooth skin.

Internal Structure: Gobli are endothermic, but their thin skin makes it easier for them to lose heat. As they did not evolve on a world in an ice age, nor tend to live in cold climates, this is of little consequence. The only effect this would induce would be the gobli wearing thicker clothing and more of it. They have a pair of lungs flanking a four-chamber heart. Their stomachs are rather large in proportion to their body size, and give them a slightly pudgy look. They require large stomachs as vats to digest the plant matter they eat.

Diet: Gobli are strictly vegetarian. In fact, their digestive system cannot even handle meat. To both species of gobli, chili peppers prove to be a strong stimulant, and potentially toxic.

Lifecycle: Gobli life cycles are quite different from sapiens. Both species live for forty years and give birth (are reproductive by the age of nine) in a far different way than humans, or mammal. Gobli are a genus of mammal-like reptiles that in which the female will contain her baby in an internally held egg sack. The egg is never laid, and the young will only be born when the egg is ready to ‘hatch’. The unborn feed upon a sack of yoke before birth, and can eat solids upon birth. Their reproduction is similar to vipers and some species of shark. This lack of direct connection between mother and child leaves gobli families not nearly as tightly knitted as any mammal. Though they are not instinctually as family-bound as true mammals, gobli still form mating pairs as a means to increase the odds of the offspring’s survival.

General Society: The most common, or at least most widely seen, species of the genus Gobli are goblins. They are diurnal and cautious beings. At first, a goblin will act timid to a new situation, but as any threat of danger passes, the gobli will relax and become more social. Despite their sharp teeth and nails (more like claws), goblins are rather peaceful. They rarely start conflict, but will fight fiercely when need arises. Goblins seeing an opportunity to improve their lives at the expense of others will take it, as long as they are certain they will prevail. The only article of clothing worn by any member of either species is trousers. They will also bundle up much tighter in colder environments than any human, for gobli (no matter which species) are not as efficient at retaining their body heat.

Gobli live in various state of technological advance. Since the dragon’s ‘empire’ collapsed some 13 million years ago, gobli civilization have risen and fallen. Many turned upwards towards space, where dragons would not bother them. Gobli city-ships are in constant movement, and often trade both genetic and cultural information with other worlds. Sometimes, gobli from one world will simply leave it and colonize another. This constant flow of data keeps the gobli language relatively constant, though it tends to drift the further one travels from their starting point. Gobli favor worlds where the dragons have already gone extinct.
One might think after millions of years in space, gobli might have evolved to nearly god-like state, at least technologically speaking. They have not physically evolved, because their ‘humanoid’ configuration suits them for their life style (i.e. there is no reason for their body to change itself). The only evolutionary change came when the gremlins shot off from the gobli branch. Advance technology, that does much of the work for goblins, also prohibits evolution. Technologically speaking, the gobli are not an overly imaginative genus. Since technology fits their life-style, and their life-styles seldom change (unless acted on by an outside force) then technology does not change often. They might improve efficiency, but innovation is rare.

Communication: Gobli language consists of guttural grunt, growls and barks. It is similar enough to human speech in terms of physiology that goblins have little trouble speaking human languages and vice-versa. Though humans never bother to learn the language, and eventually goblin populations are linguistically assimilated.

Gremlins: Gremlins are a dark forest green and have slightly larger eyes than their goblin cousins. Gremlins are this way because they favor living in the darkest of forests, as their eyes are extremely photosensitive. Gremlins are a nocturnal species, a habit given from their ancient past when a population of goblins was isolated from their species over 20 million years ago. At the time, the gobli were a two planet species within their own system. However, a disaster, followed by large-scale warfare on their homeworld left its infrastructure in tatters and isolated many gobli colonists on the outermost of the two planets. It was not for thousands of years until the gobli on the homeworld were able to return to space. By that time, the gobli adapted to life on the outer planet and became the gremlins.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Race of shadows

             Of all the known intelligent species, none are feared or misunderstood more than the Arnyék. They are extra-dimensional beings that are constantly out-of-phase without universe. As such, physical contact, even accidental, is lethal to most lifeforms. Only dragons and other sextapods are resilient enough to survive contact. Just touching one of these beings is enough to put organic systems into shock, giving rise of the legend that the Arnyék kill by touch alone. Among primitive cultures, the Arnyék are considered ‘undead’.
            The Arnyék possess a vague physical form. Their out of phase bodies are partially translucent, giving them a distinct ghost-like appearance. The mind often has difficulty in processing an Arnyék’s form and the viewer usually sees what they want to see. The only definite form of an Arnyék is its eyes, which are always glowing red orbs. Their physiology also means that they do not eat the same way as organics. Instead, they feed on various forms of energy, typically electromagnetic radiation. Despite legends of being undead, Arnyék will feed off sunlight as well as heat. In the most desperate of circumstances, Arnyék will even feed off the heat of warm-blooded animals
            Arnyék are divided into two species. The first are the Kiséptet (specters) which are the larger, more aggressive of the two. They will chase intruders and enemy until they are dead. The smaller species, the Fenyezes (shade) are content to chase an enemy until they leave their territory. In either species, when one consumes a large amount of Ultima Radiation, they transform into Elemeks (elementals), and possess the power of the spin of radiation absorbed (those that consume red spin grow in fire magic, blue spin grows water, etc.). Few people differentiate between the species and they are usually generically called Arnyék.
            Arnyék are usually content to ignore human activity, but grow angry if they are cut off from their own dimension. Trapped in our universe, they grow extremely aggressive and vicious and will not rest until find their way home. Even more dangerous are Arnyék that are summoned to our universe and forced to do the bidding of their summoner. Such instances usually result in a dead summoner and an angry arnyék.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

You otter know better....

Description: The otter-folk are meter tall, anthropomorphic otters. They have short legs and arms with flat tails to aid in propulsion. Their fingers are tipped with little claws and their toes are webbed. Ottemensen are natural swimmers. They have natural lifespans of fifty years and live in nuclear families not that different from most humans. One of the most unique traits of the ottemensen is their venomous bite. Before developing civilization, they were aquatic predators that fed on fast moving fish. In order to instantly immobilize their prey, the prehistoric otters evolved extremely potent venom. If introduced to a warm-blooded metabolism, the venom is fatal within seconds.
Society: Ottemensen live in towns built upon the water, on rocky islands or on seaside cliffs. They usually live in rivers, but have been known to build communities in salt-water estuaries. They are generally a carefree people and general naïve when it comes to dealing with other species. They also possess an odd concept of property. Essentials such as food they consider to be property of the community and share freely. Luxuries and other items not required for survival, on the other hand, they guard very jealously and usually horde. They also consider land to be a communal property, with each family simply owning the house that sat upon it.
            They are aquaculturalists, either kelp farmers or seafood ranchers. They mostly raise fish and shellfish, but communities located near the sea will have extensive kelp farms. Communities growing different foods will share with each other, though usually in a mutual sharing agreement. It is not quite trade in the human sense since no ottemensen would ever consider selling food.
Language: The ottemensen language consists of a series of squeaks and barks. Their vocal chords and mouths allow them a wide range of vocalization, enabling them to speak human and dolphin languages alike. Most of their species know how to say “don’t eat me” in Orca.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Half lion, half eagle, all protoceratops.

Description: Living in the hills and mountains that overlook wide open plains, are another other species of sextapod; the griffon. A griffon is often described as half-eagle and half-lion. The typical griffon is about the size of a lion. Like the parocophant, the griffon also hails from the dragon homeworld. Nobody knows why dragons brought them along, since they play no role in dragon diets, but the most common hypothesis is that they were pets. The truth may never be known for dragons are not talking about it.
Head: Their heads are like that of an eagle, including the lack of teeth. Griffons feed by using their beak to shred their prey. Their eyes are those of an eagle, and just as keen.
Body: Their body and tail look just like a lion, with the exception of the main of feathers around the neck of the males.
Limbs: Their wings and forward limbs take after birds-of-prey. However, their rear limbs take a resemblance to lions.
Color: They are covered in patterns of white and tan feathers.
Diet: They are almost strictly predators, scavenging only when times are desperate. They stalk their prey from the skies, often pouncing on then from up to a hundred meter above them. Like an eagle, they dive down on their prey, clutching them with their forward talons. Usually, this piercing injury kills the prey quickly. If not, it is quickly followed by the impact of the griffon upon the item of diet.
Lifecycle: Griffons, like all sextapods, do not suffer from old age or TNA break down. However, their lives are rougher than parocophants or dragons, and they tend to fall to injury more often than not. They will hunt until they can no longer hunt, then they die. Still, they will outlive all species of humans. They grow to their adult size in only a few years.
Reproduction: Unlike parocophants, griffons look after their young. They will roost high up where no predator could reach them. Clutches of up to five eggs are guarded in turns by both mother and father. After hatching, the chicks, or cubs, or whatever one wishes to call them, grow fast and require constant feeding. Within six weeks the young are ready to take flight. Though they are quick lethal to small prey, young griffons will stay with their parents until twelve to fifteen weeks of age. By then, the parental instincts fade and the parents leave the young to fend for themselves.
Sociability: Griffons have undergone domestication by humanity, and are ridden by those light enough for them to carry aloft. Unlike parocophants, griffons tend to be loyal to their humans or gobli. The only time a griffon will leave their rider is when their mating instinct kicks in. Once their young are on their own, griffons usually return on their own accord. Like house cats, griffons will both accept feed and hunt for their own food. Unlike house cats, griffons will defend their riders and form a strong bond with them. Griffons are naturally social animals, but often requirements of food and scarcity of prey force them into solitary lives.
Habitat: Open plains near mountains. They prefer to hunt on the plains, but they nest high in the mountains. As such, they tend to hunt in the mountains as well.
Communication: Griffons are capable of understanding verbal commands issued by their riders, but their natural communication is an odd mix of screeches and roars. They do not sound like a lion or eagle, but rather a merger of both animals’ sounds.
Enemies:  Griffons are wary around dragons just like parocophants. Griffons were seen more as pets, a species that amused Blue Dragons that share the open plains with them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Paroc-a-what? The fabled beast of burden.

Origins: Parocophants are sextapods, animals with six limbs instead of four. The most famous of the sextapods are the dragons. Parocophants obviously came from the Dragon Homeworld. Dragons brought them, along with griffons to all the new worlds they colonize. Parocophants are weary when dragons are nearby, but dragons never preyed upon parocophants. Dragons are just fond of the beasts, and brought them along as quasi-pets.
Size: The parocophant reaches ten meters in length, stand two meters tall at the shoulder, and have a mass of one tonne. Males and females are the same size. They have somewhat stout, wide bodies, much like an elephant, though not quite as fat since they do not eat vegetation.
Head: The parocophant skull is an almost solid muscle mass. Muscles attaching the jaws to the skull give the animal a powerful bite, capable of killing prey by crushing it.  Parocophants have frills behind their heads made of thick bone and protected them from some predators in eons past. Ear holes exist on the sides of their head. The internal structure of the ear allows them to hear above and below water. Their eyes are placed on the side of their heads, facing forward, giving them some binocular vision. Their brains are not overly large, but in structure are more parrot-like than crocodile-like.
Body: Not only do they have a head similar to a crocodile but their other end as well. The parocophant’s tail is built like a croc’s and is used in the same way; propelling them through water. However, the bulk of their body is more like an elephant, or in the aquatic sense a hippo. Like both mammals, parocophants tend to just plod along through the water, in no hurry. Their tails give them burst of speed when chasing prey.
Limbs: The first two pairs of limbs of the parocophant, legs and feet, are similar to an elephant, and almost as large. They are not intended for speed, but to keep the animal standing. Parocophants are very efficient walkers, which is one of the reasons they have been domesticate by humanity. Only their diet limits their range and where they can be used. Parocophants do not have claws, but rather hoof-like nails sticking from each of their toe bones. The most distinguishing feature of the parocophant is the third pair of limbs. They are not limbs in the tradition sense, but have fused into giant crests protruding from their upper shoulder some three meters into the air. Like the crest, it was once used for defense. Now both tend to be used more for display.
Plumage: Parocophants are covered in bright feathers like a parrot.  The biggest difference between the two is that the females (riki) are covered with green feathers, whereas the males (peri) are covered with red and orange feathers.
Internal Structure: Parocophants have a tough hide of interlaced tissue, making it difficult for an adult to suffer puncture damage. Between their skin and muscle is a lay of subcutaneous fat, which serves both as an energy reserve and as buoyancy. To lower their overall mass, the bones of parocophants are hollow. The most impressive structure inside a parocophant is on the cellular level. They have TNA, tri-ribo nucleic acid, which packs in considerably more genes than DNA. TNA, despite being more complex, can replicate itself more efficiently than DNA and far longer before error have a chance of occurring. Their genetic material is so sturdy that sextapods never suffer from the decay of old age.
 Diet: Fish. Parocophants will only eat fish, and only live ones. Attempts by humans to feed them salted, dried or even freshly thawed fish have failed. When a parocophant grows hungry, they charge straight for the nearest watering hole. Once submerged, they will gorge themselves on up to, and over, fifty kilograms of fish, enough to last them at least two days.
Lifecycle: Parocophants, like all sextapods, have extremely long lifespans. They will always outlive their humans, even if they happen to be pygmaeus. Parocophants will ultimately die due to injury or disease. Barring either, they could easily live for over one thousand years. Parocophants hatch ready to face to world. As soon as they dig their way free, they bolt for the closest source of water and feed on minnows. Even at hatching, they display the characteristic shoulder protrusions, making it difficult that prey on the likes of turtles and such to feed upon newly-hatched parocophants. Even so, it is not uncommon for half the clutch to parish before reaching the water. The hatchlings grow fast, reaching adult size within a decade. However, within a year of hatching, there are few predators that will bother them. If they can survive the first year, a parocophant is almost guaranteed a long life.
Reproduction: Parocophant are not a violent animal, not even when it comes to mating. Males tend to size each other up and force the other to back down by displays of plumage and shoulder crests. If this fails, they will line up against each other and proceed to swing their heads into each other. Their heads are solid enough that no damage is sustained, and the fight ends when one male grows tired. Longevity means that sextapods reproduce infrequently. On average, a riki will mate once a century and lay a clutch of eight to twelve eggs. After burying the eggs, the mother walks off to never see her offspring again.
Sociability: Parocophants have a very agreeable temperament, making them easily tamed. This is believed to be a lingering side-effect of domestication and selective breeding done by dragons millions of years ago. Humanity uses parocophants on the world where they exist, as beast of burden. They are as strong as elephants and much easier to work with. They also eat less often. Parocophants are limited in range due to their diet; fish. Every other day, parocophants return to the water to gorge on fish. Handlers must always unhook the drawn cart before feeding. Parocophants have been known to drag cart loads of goods into the water in their search for food.
Habitat: Parocophants live in wet environments, never a day’s walk away from a body of water. This is to satisfy their diet. They live in marshes, swamps, jungles and any place that has adequate year-round water sources. Just like hippos and crocodiles, the parocophant spends most of their time in the water. There is a certain average temperature, 290K, which they will tolerate. Areas colder than this will not find parocophants.
Communications: Parocophants are rather quiet animals, considering their size. They can produce both growls and surprisingly high-pitched chirps, but rely more upon subtle visual cues, such as posture and eye contact.
Competition/Enemies: They have no enemies as adults, but are wary of dragons. As hatchlings, anything that can swallow them will eat them. Parocophants do not thrive as well in regions that have crocodiles or hippos, mainly because of competition for space. The parocophant’s docile nature means they tend to move out of the way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dragons of Stardust

Green Dragons
Origins: The dragons (Greens are the original, non-engineered species) originated on a world lost in the mists of history somewhere in the Small Magellanic Cloud some fifty-two million years ago. At that time, they were small, tree-dwelling dinosaurs. As time progressed on their homeworld, their third pair of limbs eventually evolved into wings as the proto-dragons spent much of their time jumping from tree to tree. Only once they became airborne did they begin to grow in size, abandoning arboreal life altogether and settling in their current configuration approximately forty million years ago. Sometime after the first dragons evolved, their homeworld underwent global warming, forcing the dragons to take to the water to cool off. It took them little time to realize the water was home to a new source of food; fish. As such, the Greens we know today are a semi-aquatic predator. Despite a primarily fish-based diet, the Green retained their venomous spray even though the venom is only useful underwater when injected directly into the prey.
            Dragons spread across their homeworld and soon started to look for ways out. Leaving homeworld was easier a task than was to be expected by a species that lived mostly solitary lives ranging across large territories. Dragons are by far the most intelligent species known. Without civilization in the human sense, dragons banded together, pooled their intelligence and devised a means of reaching space. The progress from ground to space happened within a dragon’s lifetime, but as dragons were incredibly long-lived, it was not quite as impressive at is sounds. More than two thousand years passed from the first idea to the first spaceship as dragons had to develop a wide assortment of tools not required for daily survival.
            Once spacefaring, dragons took slow boats (slower-than-light craft) to the nearest stars. With nature lifespans of five thousand years, dragons could always afford to take their time. These first Dragoni ships, like those to follow, were built from hollowed out asteroids that were made to rotate. Dragons spend the next twenty million years spreading across the SMC, LMC and eventually into the Main Galaxy. During this course of action, dragons encountered goblins and gremlins, conquered them and “domesticated” them. With their nimble hands and high dexterity, gobli made far better builders than dragons with their cumbersome hands. Around thirteen million years ago, their homeworld along with many other core worlds, were caught in the line of sight of a gamma ray burst. This disaster wiped out much life on these worlds and with their core destroyed, dragon worlds eventually went their separate ways, though contact is occasionally maintained with the advanced technology (spatial transmitters) housed within a planet’s dragon vault.
Size: Dragons have a length of ten meters upon reaching their adult size, nearly half of it their tail. Their adult mass levels off at 250 kg, but as with all animals native to their homeworld, they continue to grow throughout their lives albeit at a much slower rate. By the time a dragon reaches five thousand years of age, the mass would have doubled, making flight more difficult.
Head: A dragon’s head is about the same size of a horse's, though its jaws can open far wider. The eyes of a dragon are sensitive to vision ranging from infrared to ultraviolet, giving them a far wider scope of the world around them. The appearance of a dragon’s eye is very bird-like.  They hear by focusing the sounds around them with a pair of ear flaps, that channels the sound down to ear holes in the side of their head. Their ear flaps help them zero in on the slightest sound. Inside their jaws, dragons have two sets of teeth. The forward teeth are conical, and used for gripping prey. The rear teeth are serrated and used to sheer flesh. Two of the forward fangs have channels running down the front of them. These channels allow a flow of chlorine from the venom glands into the mouth. Chlorine is generated by a high intake in salts. The gland separated the chlorine and stores it, while to sodium is excreted in the dragon’s waste. Dragons have two ways of envenomation; either by biting and injecting the chlorine directly into the target’s bloodstream, or by spraying it through their fangs like a spitting cobra. The mist is then inhaled by the target but kills not nearly as quickly.
Body: Their body is roughly the same size as a war horse, with similar lengths of limbs and neck. The neck is far more slender than that of a horse. The flexible tail acts as a rudder, stabilizing the dragons in flight and adding to their agility.

Limbs: Dragons are sextapods that is they have six limbs instead of four.  Each of the six limbs of a dragon ends with four digits. One the “hands” of the dragon, the inner most digits is slightly opposable, allowing dragons to pick up items and use tools. Each of the digits end in talons capable of penetrating the hides of any prey.  Their wingspan is slightly more than ten meters. The wings are a third set of limbs, connecting to the body just above the shoulder joints.
Color: The Green’s skin is a forested green leathery hide. Their chests and undersides of their wings, in the case of males, is a brighter color. This is used for attracting a mate. Their hides consist of several interlaced layers of tough skin. So tough is their hide, that it prevents penetration from any sharp object or projectile short of an armor-piercing round.
Internal Structure: Their bones are hollow and sturdy, but can be broken by a hard enough hit, even if it does not break the skin. The skin membranes of the wings are made of the same structure, but without muscle behind them, are vulnerable to damage. A dragon’s brain is a powerful tool, and makes them the most intelligent animal known. Period. Of the food they eat, at least half the calories go directly to the brain. A dragon can compute square roots faster than one can enter the numbers into a calculator.
Diet: A Green’s diet consists of mostly fish. They have become a somewhat semi-aquatic species, spending much of their time beneath the surface of lakes and rivers in search of prey. All dragons must eat at least 15 kg of food each day. Both their brains and their wings require quite a bit of energy to function properly.
Lifecycle: A dragon’s life starts when a 2 kg hatchling breaks through the hard-shelled egg. Clutches are between two and four eggs, and usually only one hatchling will survive, due to stiff competition between hatchlings for food. Seldom are they lost to predators, since the parents will kill anything creature they deem a threat to the young on sight. Humans have never seen a dragon nest and lived to tell. Dragons must grow and learn fast, and by the third year, the surviving young are fully grown and driven out of their birth land in search of territories of their own. Dragons will fly off for days on end, searching for lands not already claimed. Since dragon birth-rate is extremely low, there is often enough space for young dragons if they fly far enough.
            Dragons grow through their lives, but do so most swiftly as hatchlings. From the time they hatch from an egg the size of a football until they are their adult size, only three years pass. In that time, they grow to their full 250kg mass. So much food is required to grow a dragon that both parents must work tirelessly to feed the young. This short childhood is also part of the reason dragons are so intelligent; they must master their language, flight and other dragon skills within three years. After three years of age, the growth slows to the point where it is no longer easily detected. Mass will typically increase by a kilogram every couple of decades. The genetic material of any dragon is unknown, but since other sextapods have Trioxyribo Nucleic Acid, it is likely dragons do as well. This structure of genetic material is so durable, that it never decays during the dragon’s life, and is what allows sextapods to live for thousands of years, barring injury or disease.
            The death of a dragon is a secret event. Some are killed by injury, and their remains are discovered with scavengers trying to penetrate the tough hide. Most dragons live to be 5,000. By that time, their mass has increased to the point where flight is becoming difficult. Instead of living a life grounded, and perhaps forced to scavenge themselves, dragons choose to die with their dignity intact. When they reach this age, they will create a burrow deep in the forest, climb into it, and shut their body down. Basically, they will go into hibernation and never awaken. Their brains are powerful enough to shut down their vital systems and offer a quick hibernating death.
Reproduction: Dragonettes (the females) come into season very seldom. Dragons have control over their breeding cycles, and a dragonette will go into season only when conditions are right and population pressures are very low. When she does, Drakes (the males) come from all around in hope of impressing the Dragonette.  At first, lack of dimorphism made telling the difference between Drakes and Dragonettes apart rather difficult. Both were roughly the same size. They will dance for her, displaying their bright colors on their chest and wings. Bright colors are a mark of good health. Typically, the oldest, wisest, and strongest male, with the best territory will win. Occasionally, a Dragonette will choose a Drake that she happens to get along with, for they will have to spend the next three years together. The nest is built on the richest of the two parents’ territories. The eggs are laid in a nest that is covered up with rotting vegetation and guarded by one parent at all times. The eggs take some forty days to hatch.
Sociability: As stated before, dragons are very intelligent. This intelligence leads them to seek out mental stimulation, despite being solitaire. Their solitary existence is mostly due to the large territories dragons need to feed themselves. As predators, they are not inclined to share. Every few years, dragons neighboring each other will gather together in neutral territory and exchange ideas and discoveries, and engage in stimulating conversation. Greens will occasionally even engage humans they come across, provided said humans are not seen as a threat to the dragon’s forest.
            Aside from their venom and bite, dragons use their talons and tails as weapons as well. Talons cause piercing damage, puncturing internal organs and causing severe trauma. Their tails are used as whips. It strikes an enemy like a thick bull-whip, breaking bones with ease. More than one intruder into their territory has suffered a broken neck from having a tail whip them in the head. Dragons are hesitant to bite into other intelligent animals, and will rely on tails, talons and toxic breath.
            Occasionally, dragons will venture into human towns and talk with the apes, read their books and watch their television. They will tolerate humans on their worlds only as long as humans are not a threat to the ecosystem. In that case, the dragons will simply exterminate them. This is done by accessing the Dragon Vault and drawing forth ancient and extremely powerful weapons. Though they view technology as a necessary evil, when a dragon builds something, they build it to last forever
Communication: Dragons communicate with one and other through a language that is comprised of a series of chirps, hisses and rumbles. The language is rather complex and has never been translated by humans. Dragons will not teach their language to humans, not even pygmaeus, because their shorter lifespan would just mean the dragon would have to retrain a new human in a matter of decades. Because dragons have so short childhoods to learn, their brains are adapted to learn very fast. A dragon is capable of learning a human language in a matter of days.
Habitat: Greens live within temperate forests. They do not like the cold, nor do they like extreme heat. The hottest forests are home to the Blacks. They prefer forests on worlds with a constant climate and little in the way of seasons. In the event of seasons, they live in the lower temperate zones, where it rarely to never snows.
Blue Dragons:  One of the three dragon species to be engineered by the Green Dragons are the Blues. Where the Greens evolved in a more temperate, forested world, the Blues were engineered to survive in a semi-arid grass and scrubland. The name Blue is a bit misleading since the hide is chameleonic in nature. It can shift from dark blue and violet down to white. Given that the skies on all worlds are not the same color; the Blues were engineered to adjust to their new backdrops. Blue Dragons were made to blend into the sky, for they ambush their prey from above. To kill their prey, Blues simply use the impact from above to break the necks of their prey. If that fails, instead of Chlorine, they use electricity to kill prey and ward off threats. Their breath attack works because when engineered, genes from electric fish were inserted into the Blues’ genome. Electrical cells line their tongues, and by clicking it against their fangs, sparks of electricity jump from their mouth, making this the shortest range of any “venom” dragons can spit.
            Of all the dragons, Blues are the least friendly. This has to do with their habitat. On the savanna, there is plenty of prey, and plenty of competition. This drive to compete with other predators forced the Blues to evolve a nasty disposition. Of all the dragons, they are the most likely to kill intruders on sight.
Habitat: Savanna, scrublands, open tropical woodlands.
Red Dragons: Another of the dragons engineered by the Greens were the Reds. Red Dragons were designed to inhabit ecosystems even harsher than the savannas the Blue were engineered with in mind. Many of the arid worlds Dragons first visited showed an abundance of red rock, which is why the Reds have a slightly rusty sheen to their hides. They were engineered to blend into the desert background, and to sneak up on prey if possible. Reds tend to kill with a bite, injecting an oily venom into their prey, which can kill in minutes. Like the Greens, they are also capable of “spitting” their venom. Unlike Greens, the Reds can click their teeth together to cause a spark and ignite the oil. Of all the dragons, the Reds are the friendliest. Being of such marginal environment, one might expect Reds to be more territorial than Blues. However, Reds have little in the way of competition, and live in the largest territories any dragons occupy. The scarcity of other dragons makes them eager to talk to any intelligent species they stumble upon, provided they do not threaten a dragon’s territory.
Habitat: Tropical and semi-tropical deserts.
Black Dragons: The third dragon species to be engineered were the Black Dragons. They were designed to live in environments similar to Greens (forested) only hotter. Blacks thrive in swamps and jungles, and spend half of their time under water. They hunt almost solely by ambush, lurking beneath the water in a way reminiscent of crocodiles. Instead of drowning their prey, Blacks inject them with highly acidic venom, which breaks downs blood vessels and causes massive internal bleeding. The prey dies from shock quickly, unless the force of the bite crushes vertebrae. Blacks live in the highest population density of any dragon species. However, with wide sources of prey, little conflict arises between Blacks, and between them and other species. Blacks are almost as sociable as Reds. Their hides are a dark black, similar to the scales of a black mamba.
Habitat: Swamps and tropical rain forests.