by Pedro Jaime Delcorvino I
Further information on other aspects of the greater galaxy.
The other race is called the Haemophage; again, outwardly unremarkable, they have a very low birth rate, but have found that by ingesting the protein found in the blood of the Haemocytes, their life span is prolonged indefinitely.
Over the millennia, the 'phage, as they are known, have risen to the peak of Haemotopic society, acting as guides and guardians to the mass of 'cyte.
Technology is based on engineering, with little use of energy in its' pure form; the ether in this area contains small impurities of primal clay, which can impair the use of low concentrations.
These impurities, however, allow the concentration and bonding of ether into very tough metals; this is just as well, given the punishment needed to break ether down for manufacturing processes!
Outsiders have often commented on the bolts and plates prevalent in Haemotopian machinery; over the centuries, this has developed into a general aesthetic of society, leading to it's use even where not strictly necessary.
Recently, high up 'phage have stated that, if an outside colony were to succeed, it would be bought up by a corporation at a handsome profit to the developer.
The Haemotopian system consists of a central, white star, Cardia, orbited by six planets, three gas giants and two planetary belts. Around the planets are twenty-three satellites and two ring systems. Of these planetary bodies, eleven are inhabited.
Most of the population is concentrated on the main planet, Haemoblast, and it's two large moons, Globulin and Plasma. There is also a large trading post inside the furthest planet, Arteriole, above which the main wormhole for the system hangs.
However, since Globulin and plasma each have a mass equal to around 10 per cent of the mass of Haemoblast, tides are very high, and most cities are placed on high plateaux away from the sea. Weather can be extreme, and high winds and rainstorms are frequent.
Most of the land mass of Haemoblast is concentrated on a single "super-continent", with a large mountain range at it's heart. The range is bisected by a deep valley running east-west.
The capital city, Pulmos, is situated inside this valley, which protects it from the worst of the weather, but does tend to lie within a thick fog for much of the year.
Fauna is equally diverse, ranging from the steppe wolves to the tiny humming bats. However, while forms diverge among both plants and animals, there seems to be less divergence at a lower level; there is little difference between the anatomical structure of "birds", "fish" and "mammals."
Among the animals of Haemoblast and it's two satellites, there is an apparent increase in aggressive behaviour at the time when both "moons" traverse the sky in close proximity. This usually heralds the rutting season, as gestation periods match the cycle in such a way that, if the animals are fertilised at "double moon," the young will be born at a "single moon", when tidal activity is at it's lowest, weather patterns are calmer, and the general environment is safer.
Animals seem to have developed at similar rates and ways on all three bodies; this would tend to indicate some sort of tampering or design of the system to support life, though no evidence has been found to indicate who did this or why.
At each level of each these bodies is a council which determines policy of that unit. Both 'phage and 'cyte serve on these councils, and have equal voting rights on them. Each council appoints its' own members, advised by councils both above and below it.
As can probably be gathered, even the lowest councils tend to have one 'phage member, and they will tend to be chairs of the meetings and dictate long term policy. Government is generally by an informed consensus.
The highest council is the supreme council of Haemotopia; all members of this council accept full and personal responsibility of any actions performed in the name of Haemotopia.
At present, the supreme council consists of twenty-three members, of whom eighteen are 'phage and five 'cyte.
This system is very popular, giving both stability and accountability for decisions. About one in five of the population serve on at least one council, and appointment is highly sought after.
The legal system is a judicial based one, which assumes innocence until proof of guilt. The accused is tried by a council of their peers, usually a specially formed council of those trained legally and philosophically.
Haemotopia harbours no aggressive or expansionist intent towards any nearby systems.
For example, general rude or obnoxious behaviour is treated by a course of counselling, if a simple word of advice is not enough. For a gross offence against the person, such as assault, rape or murder, the offender is assessed as to their mental state, and then removed from society until such time as it can be proved that they are no longer a danger to it, or themselves.
The concept of punishment for breaches of behaviour is generally seen as counter-productive for offender, offended and society as a whole. As goes the release of criminals, the custodians of them tend to err on the side of caution where release is concerned.
The tax burden on the populace is generally very heavy; to offset this, there are a great number of social services provided. Service on a council is unpaid, though the fiscal council does provide for expenses incurred while serving. Since most of the 'phage do nothing but serve on councils, they have very little to do with cash per se. Bearing in mind the extreme stability of the economy, however, this does not mean that they live at the expense of the poor; indeed, due to the progressive nature of taxation, they live mostly at the expense of the rich merchant/administrative class.
The basic feeling of Haemotopic society is one of laissez faire; little is frowned upon if it does not abuse the dignity of another sentient, or, indeed, most other forms of life. There is very little internal opposition to the status quo; most malcontents leave after finding how few of their compatriots would give up their security for a more independent life.
Policing is carried out by a special branch of the military; the white uniformed constables and sheriffs are entirely under the jurisdiction of the local legal council, upon which their officers sit. They are generally seen as a last resort in cases of disturbance or breech of standards, and are a common sight patrolling the streets, acting as points of contact for the government at all levels. In other societies, their role could be taken up by not only police, but social workers, community health officers, and any number of other officials.
Long ago, these were all subsumed into one, internal agency to deal with anything from fire control, to crime prevention and detection, to emergency medical aid.
Among the labouring classes, there is little movement of labour, and families tend to stick to traditions of work styles, preferring the pride of craftsmanship to the risks of social mobility.
This mobility is, however, quite freely available to those few who wish it; education is a guaranteed right of all. Also guaranteed is poor relief for those who are genuinely unemployable at that time; these are VERY few in number.
Also guaranteed is the individuals right to lose their shirt if their social mobility moves the other way.
Society is based on the community, with the family playing a very important role in the community, second only to the councils.
The only single group that stands out as wholly separate from the rest is the Haemophage. They engage in very little activity outside of the councils, guiding them along the path that they feel is the best for Haemotopia as a whole.
There are a number of people who dedicate themselves to exploring this concept, and may call themselves philosophers, theologians, priests, monks, hermits or whatever, depending on their belief system and sociability.
The Haemophage are often sought out in these discussions, as they have a much greater personal experience than the 'cyte, and have seen many strange things in their flight across the galaxy. Furthermore, debate is one of the great loves of the 'phage.
There is little in the way of organised religion; there are schools of thought, but they do not seek to impose themselves on other believers or non-believers.
That being said, there is some degree of social approval of those who prefer to take the role of a councillor, and also of those who join the armed forces or, especially, the internal force.
There is a little external trading, but this is largely in luxury or novelty goods.
Haemotopia is presently in a debate about whether to increase exports, and thus entangle the economy with that of the greater galaxy, with the concomitant instabilities.
The main weapons used are slug-throwers of various sizes and speed, while the largest of the vehicles in each branch carry energy beam projectors; these can only be manufactured in large sizes due to the "prime contaminated ether" nature of the local reality.
Each unit has it's own uniform, and traditions are a strong bond amongst the men and women who serve.
Equipment utilised by the military tends towards the efficient, armoured, heavy fire power and brute force end of the scale.
The military are ultimately controlled by the military council, answerable to the supreme council. The councillar method of government is maintained throughout the structure of the military; the military is constantly drilling to maintain an ease of operation in an emergency that this system would otherwise not allow.
The pastimes indulged in ranged from full contact tackle ball to card games. While individual athletics are less popular, there is still a wide range of activities supported.
Perhaps the most popular pastime of the Haemotopians is that of public debate; it is unclear why this should be such a dominant recreation, but whether it be over a measure of ale in the local almshouse, or in full blown public disputation, there is little a Haemotopian likes more than to witness or participate in a full blown, abstract argument, with no apparent connection to their own state of being.
Thus it is not an uncommon sight in the public places of Pulmos to overhear a senior councilman and an elderly shoe maker debate on whether a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue which the 'Phage encountered on their travels four millennia ago can be considered to be truly alive in any way that allows one to wear any shade of blue without being accused of slavery.
This disputational mind set has spilled over into all the arts, with almost every play, poem, novel or sculpture presenting a new counter argument to the piece performed or placed before it, even if that piece was by the same artist. To be an arts director in Pulmos is to be a master of rhetoric.
The center of the city is mainly docks and ether foundries, with the merchant sector expanding away from that, towards the domestic zones. High in the valley walls, embedded in rock, are the governmental buildings and homes of the 'phage.
Being stretched along a valley, Pulmos is at most four or five miles across, and nearly ten times that in length.
The other notable city that outsiders will definitely see is Terminus, the trading city on Arteriole. Sometimes called the Crystal Palace, this city is entirely contained within clear domes, extending down below the surface many miles into the planet.
This is unsurprisingly, the most cosmopolitan of all the cities, and contains shipyards and the system's largest Space Navy base, Terminus Central.
It has been said that the two loveliest sights in Haemotopia are midsummer's dawn in Pulmos, when the sun shines down the length of the Plasma Valley as it appears over the horizon, and the flare of the wormhole closing over Terminus as another trading fleet leaves for nearby systems.
They were an advanced people, and had learnt much from those that visited their peaceful planet. However, the visitors stopped coming eventually; there were rumours of storms in the fabric of reality ahead. These were mostly ignored by the carefree 'Phage, but for a scant few who gathered up their loved ones and a supply of the precious foods of their home into what ships they could scavenge or build in the short time available to them.
Of billions of phage, only a few thousand survived the reality storm and the flight from home. For many centuries they roamed the galaxy in search of a new home for them. Some split off, and were never heard of again. Some of the planets they found were nearly close enough, but too dominated by barbaric cultures, or races hostile to any refugees. There were planets where they were hounded as monsters, even systems where the very light of the stars burnt their flesh to dust.
Finally, a handful of the ships limped into a calm system, buffered from storms by the nearby Kalar. The locals were a peaceful folk, but were dying from an infection which had drifted to their system from a war far away, fought by two long dead races.
The 'Phage traded their technology and knowledge to beat the plague for a grant of land; it was only while developing a vaccine that the presence of the immortality protein was found in the blood of the 'cyte, as the locals came to be known. At first, the 'Phage rejected the ingestion of 'Cyte blood as a barbaric means of prolonging their life spans.
Then, the attempted growth of the fruit of home failed. The 'Phage, now in their isolated settlement, resigned themselves to mortality; their birth-rate was too low to preserve the species. It was the nearby community of 'Cyte that offered them a chance.
The local ruler of the 'Cyte was an inhumane tyrant, and he local populace saw the 'Cyte as their liberators. In return for a supply of the protein, humanely harvested and administered, the 'Phage would be employed by the 'Cyte as governors, and supply technology to overthrow the tyrant and form a new alliance among the other peoples of the valley....
The same relationship has been maintained to the present; the Alliance of Pulmos grew into Haemotopia as it is known today. The 'Phage are still considered to be the employees of the 'Cyte, civil servants if you will. The history of the system has been steady and peaceful, with little in the way of major upsets for over two millennia.
The bill of rights
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