I decided that, for those who might be interested, I might share some background details to this series. I believe wholeheartedly in world-building, though the world or universe that an author crafts really ought to be built outside of the story, ought to be its own entity, and should be used, primarily by the author as a source to draw from when telling a great story. In other words, not all of the work needs to be printed for the world to see, at least not in the same publication. While some suggest that world-building ought to be done inside of the framework of a story, I find that any additional details that are not of vital importance slow down the pacing. It is true that as an author, at least some parts of the worlds I build are designed off the cuff. But even when this is done, I take some time reflecting on how one part of a story fits in with the rest of the whole.
A HISTORY OF THE GALAXY
There was a good king, an alien named Qar’tos, who was actually responsible for the creation of some of the species in the galaxy. (Qar’tos and others of his species are called Archaeans, a name given them by the Karesh, one which hints at their age and reverence. In reality, though, they do not look like much. The Archaeans were actually small yellow beetles and often disguised their appearance by wearing large mechanized armor suits.) Qar’tos and the Archaeans settled a planet called Velek.
Under his rulership, the various species in the galaxy thrived, particularly the Karesh, who themselves weren’t present for much more than a thousand years. These ones took after their creator and made many technological breakthroughs, among these the world portals that connected the major worlds together. The oldest Karesh, known for their longevity, are direct descendants of the ones Qar’tos originally created himself.
The gwalf (small, impossibly cute, furry sentient creatures) had a presence in the galaxy for perhaps five thousand years or so, settling in Qal’qemish (later renamed Aerelon by the humans). Their life expectancies are quite similar to those of the humans, anyone much older than eighty is venerable. They originally arrived in the galaxy, much the same way that the humans did, as scientists and explorers. They endeared themselves to Qar’tos rather quickly. Many worked closely with the king, who was very interested to see other sentient beings arriving in his galaxy and who rewarded their endeavors to build a civilization.
Across the galaxy, there were highly sentient and telepathic water dragons (Giorck) who had a civilization in Trenago. Not much is known of their civilization, and with the exception of the Slave Age, these dragons have seldom left their subaqueous colonies.
The icy world Tundorsha was home to a primitive colony of hunters known as Noussa. Because Noussa generally keep to small families, the size of their colony hasn’t expanded much beyond its start.
Finally, from the volcanic world Fiertaros came the Escudo: a large, strong, highly armored species who in spite of great technological capabilities are rather primitive. They are lethargic and spend a large portion of their lives in hibernation.
Under Qar’tos, all of these species lived a very contented life. Unfortunately, Qar’tos’ power hungry sister Zar-q’rah killed him and took control of his kingdom. She gathered these major species, Karesh, Gwalf, Giorck, Noussa and Escudo, and forced them into harsh labor to build the empire Qar’tos began until the City of Zar-q’rah surrounded the entire planet Velek, standing as a beautiful masterpiece representing her vast power. To the slaves, though, it represented oppression.
Among other skills, Zar-q’rah was herself a geneticist and she found a way to replicate the Noussa gene which allowed them to bond with a tiny blue bird at birth and tweak it to allow her slaves and various animals to bond together. The slaves could hear the thoughts of animals through their bonds and could communicate via thought transference. Not all slaves could bond with all animals or vice versa.
If any from these slave species got the notion to rise up, she made certain they were dealt with. Some were executed in the squares as an example to their brethren. Others were taken to a prison base which orbited Velek, where they were tortured into compliance. Among these was Symon Brutus, a gwalf who became a sleeper agent and informant.
When the humans found their way to this galaxy, they discovered the oppressed slaves of Zar-q’rah. Though they were rather small in number, the humans were very capable strategists and tacticians, and with the assistance of a slave rebellion, they rose up against Zar-q’rah. Alas, they were unaware that Zar-q’rah was using Brutus to pass information to her, and when the humans arrived, she was ready for them. Brutus, for his part, had been promised freedom for his actions. But Zar-q’rah gave him that freedom in his own death, for as she said, “No one likes a traitor.”
There was a significant war, and many slaves and many humans lost their lives. However, the humans used some less than savory tricks to equalize against the attack, and the slaves were able to use their bonds to direct an army against Zar-q’rah and her allied Archaeans, driving them from the galaxy once and for all.
The gwalf became ostracized as a species, and built a reputation for cowardice-true or not, for Brutus had once been their leader. They settled deep in a cave where they built a city called Tranoudor. Tranoudor thrived for many centuries, though in recent decades it has begun to fall into dereliction.
The human explorers settled a peaceful world which they named Aerelon. The human Captain John Devereaux was later struck with a rare though serious illness called Thermoplasia and was required to live out the rest of his days on Tundorsha, where he became a king to a human colony. A number of Noussa swore fealty to him and the Noussa, less a few outsiders, have continued subject to the Devereaux family to this day. Devereaux left his Commander Eril Penningway in charge of Aerelon, where many, many centuries later, the Penningway family is still in charge.
The Karesh settled Ress Janoa, bringing their Escudo allies to settle there. Unfortunately, the Escudo found the temperate conditions of Ress Janoa too cold to thrive and most died out. On the other hand, a number of Escudo who escaped the slavery remain in Fiertaros. About three centuries ago, the humans exiled a particularly violent man named Warson Sludge to Fiertaros. But unknown to them, he was actually very intuitive and crafted a starship from the metals on Fiertaros which he used to journey into the galaxy, persuading orphans to join his band of pirates. He became the notorious Pirate King of Fiertaros. Somehow the Pirate King has found a way to extend his life and is said to still be looting the galaxy.
GEM FISH & THEIR GEMS
Among the technologies Zar-q’rah left behind in the galaxy are a unique breed of fish that produce gems from their guttural juices over the course of a year. The fish, called a gem fish by those who know of its existence, may produce up to five said gems in a life-time.
The gems are capable of great powers, though many said powers manifest themselves much the same. For example, there are a number of gems which explode when crushed but which, in actuality may contain fire or electricity.
There are some gems which may seem useless. For example, one gem, when crushed, allows the user to disappear for a fraction of a second, less time than the human brain takes to notice an effect. Another pair of gems allow the user to 1) cast an illusion or 2) shape-shift for that same fraction of a second, while the gem is being crushed.
However, when coupled with a circlet designed to sustain the power of the gem, these may prove very useful, or perhaps dangerous.
Gem Fish are not common to the galaxy. They make their homes typically in the Tranoudor river. About twenty years ago, the Karesh made a trade agreement with the gwalf for a school of such fish, and they have begun to harvest and experiment with the variety of functions of the gems. It is also worth noting that a gem cannot generally be differentiated from another by sight or by touch, as they vary widely in color and cut, and this seems to have little bearing on a gem’s function.