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Ilum Tenabra
Empire Information
Played by Bubble Wrap in CYOE3

Production Focus

The Generation Ships

A long time ago, in a time now lost to data corruption and hardware failure, the Iridian people developed their first interstellar vessels. Giant colony ships, each home to tens of thousands of people, were despatched to explore the galaxy. Travelling at the speed of light, they were expected to take decades to reach the nearest stars, and centuries before finding a suitable home. Some, such as the Lomas Camerara, thrived as they explored, others suffered darker fates: the Alba Noradium is a ghost ship, its people enslaved and its computer now corrupted beyond recovery. This, however, is the story of the Ilum Tenabra.

The Ilum Tenabra

The fourth great expedition was launched aboard the Ilum Tenabra, a generation ship housing two hundred and fifty five thousand Iridians, along with their supplies and equipment. Its course took it to the Caldria nebula, before heading on out towards the galactic rim. For seventy eight generations, it continued ever onwards, founding six colonies as it went, and encountering a dozen spacefaring civilisations. The Coranti gave the Iridians a jump drive for the Ilum Tenabra, which allowed the ship to open small jump nodes at will, greatly speeding its journey out to the rim. Unfortunately, this nearly led to the failure of the mission. A century later, during a routine jump between two systems, the drive suffered a catastrophic failure. A strange interaction between the aging drive and the nearby super-massive star catapulted the ship half way across the galaxy. Lost, and now restricted to their lightspeed drive once more, the Ilum Tenabra eventually stumbled into the Ambreneta system, encountering for the first time the phenomenon of naturally occurring jump nodes. Here, the ship halted while the Iridians decided how best to proceed.

The Iridians

Externally, the Iridians are very similar to humans. They have a tendency towards green and blue hair, though occasionally other colours appear. The artificial light of the Ilum Tenabra means that most Iridians are pale-skinned, whereas those on the colony worlds exhibit a much wider variety of skin tones. They are physically short, usually of slender build, and have a number of v-shaped ridges down their backs. These back ridges become more pronounced as the individual gets older.

Despite the apparent physical similarity, the Iridians do have a number of differences to humans. Iridians have only a single lung for breathing air, with the second being adapted to filter oxygen from water. As such, all Iridians are capable of breathing underwater without difficulty. They also lack a singular heart, instead having between five and seven smaller heart-like organs around their body which work in concert to pump blood. These hearts are powerful enough that only four are needed for normal circulation, reducing the risk of death if one fails. They also have a complete intolerance for alcohol. Small amounts cause irritation and bright red rashes across their body, while larger doses can cause them to go into shock, or even die.

Iridian's have only a single gender, which appears female by human standards. For roughly one week in seven, an Iridian carries a viable embryo. During this time, a region of skin on their stomach, as well as around their necks, displays a blue-green pattern. These coloured skin regions are capable of absorbing genetic material from a partner during heightened emotional states, which is then used to fertilise the embryo. Since it is possible for both partners to become pregnant during such an exchange, Iridian culture has adapted to discourage mating when both partners are in their child-bearing time. Iridian pregnancies last for three months, and the mother is required to give birth in an aquatic environment as young Iridians are incapable of breathing air until they are six months old.

Iridians have a life expectancy of about sixty years, however some individuals have lived to over twice this. They rarely show signs of ageing however until into their fifties. Some individuals on board the Ilum Tenabra have embraced a mixture of cybernetics and alien genetic modification technologies to extend their lifespans considerably. Known as Cybiotics, these people can easily live for two or three centuries, and are seen with a mixture of awe and fear by their companions.

Iridian Culture

Iridian culture is organised around small groups known as Myara. Each Myar is made up of roughly a dozen individuals who are psychically linked to each other, sharing thoughts, emotions and experiences. Although Iridians retain their family names, and often meet with their parents and siblings, it is their Myar that they truly consider family, being bonded so closely together. Indeed, most Iridians mate exclusively within their Myar, and bearing a child from another Myar is a social taboo.

Newly born Iridians are abandoned by their parents and left in the care of older Myara who raise them. Children from different families are all raised side by side, meaning that the Iridians have never developed the concept of social class, and instead it is peoples age and physiological state that determine their role in society. Between the ages of 1 and 5, the children form into their Myara, though the process by which this occurs is not fully understood. It is known, however, that family members rarely find themselves in the same Myar, except in unusual circumstances such as isolation during their youth. Once all members of a Myar are fifteen, they are considered to be of the age of consent, and are free to make their own decisions. After the age of about thirty five, individuals begin to feel an urge to settle down and raise children, and at some point the Myar will agree to return to their home and take up the responsibility of raising children. In this way, the cycle of society continues.

The Iridian's have a number of major religions; however those aboard the Ilum Tenabra almost universally believe in the Great Cycle. In this belief system, each person’s consciousness passes into their Myar upon death. When the last member of a Myar dies, the Myar is reborn in its entirety, passing into a new group of children. In this way, once a Myar is formed, it continues for all eternity unless the last surviving member is unable to be with the children when they die. For this reason, when an elderly Iridian feels death is near, they will go to spend their final hours in one of the nurseries, in order to ensure that their former Myar is reborn, and the friends can be with each other once more.

More cynical Iridians have often disputed this belief, usually citing the fact that no memories from a Myar are ever recalled by future Myara, however research into what causes Myara to form has shown that Myara formed in nurseries that encourage elderly Iridians to spend their final hours there tend to form at a younger age, and be more tightly bonded than those formed elsewhere.

Iridian Technology

The technology of the Iridians at the time of the Ilum Tenabra’s launch was similar to that of Earth's in the early 23rd century, however in the intervening centuries the Iridians developed and traded numerous technologies which they incorporated into their ship. By the time it arrived in Gateway, the Ilum Tenabra and its supporting fleet boasted advanced weaponry, reactive hull plating, regenerative shielding and many other technologies. Overall, the Ilum Tenara maintains a technological level roughly the same as the species nearby at any time, however due to it being a mixture of Iridian, alien and hybrid technologies, some areas require considerable maintenance or are unreliable in prolonged use.

One large area of difference is the design of the computer interfaces on the Ilum Tenabra. Designed and operated by a crew of telepaths, the ship has few tactile interfaces; instead, each bridge station is fitted with a thought receptor unit that allows a crewman to direct the ship through thought alone. Each station is configured to a specific individual, preventing unauthorised people from operating the ship systems. The entire ship is also fitted with general purpose thought receptors, allowing the crew and passengers to operate machinery such as the replicators by thought. After the Iridians made first contact with an alien species, the ship was retrofitted with audio receptors and more tactile controls to better cater for non-telepathic visitors, however critical areas of the ship remain exclusively telepath-oriented, meaning anyone capturing an Iridian ship will have to spend considerable time rewiring the control systems before they can operate it.