Homeworld and ClimateEdit
Tarlec is currently the sole homeworld for the Imaja species. Archives dating back to the Galactic Empire Era state that the Imaja were much more widespread in that time, controlling thousands of worlds, however their population was dramatically reduced during the Tairez-Imaja War, and the survivors subsequently withdrew to Tarlec, and isolated themselves from the physical universe as we know it.
The Imaja are highly adaptable to extreme climates, capable of surviving in environments that would be hostile to human life. Their actual preference lean towards warm and dry climates, with an Earth-normal atmosphere; conditions that are found on their current homeworld.
Lifespan and ReproductionEdit
The true lifespan of an Imaja is unknown, generally thought to be least 180 - 300 years, but rumored to be ageless. Since they are engineered beings, the Imaja are largely resistant to disease and the ravages of age. The technologies that they possess on Tarlec enable them to turn back the clock every few decades and add years to their lifespans, but without that periodic maintenance they will eventually grow old. The Nexus is the ultimate arbiter of how old they are allowed to get; at times it will determine that an individual has accumulated enough knowledge that he is more useful as a part of the Nexus, and is absorbed into it permanently.
The Imaja are equipped to be able to reproduce naturally, but generally they do not. Their emotional detachment from one another may seem to be the reason for this, and certainly it has something to do with it, but the primary reason is their own stringent standards about who is allowed to be part of their society. They prefer to expand their numbers through the assimilation of outsiders who have been chosen for their intellect and creativity.
Average height: 5'6" to 7' tall; average weight: 150 - 280 lbs.
By all accounts Imaja are not a result of natural evolution, but seem to be the result of the deliberate re-engineering of other life forms into a morphology that is deemed to be ideal by their kind. Their appearance overall seems to speak of a biomechanical nature; it is easy to mistake their kind for being some sort of biological android. Their bodies are humanoid in design: from the neck down they look human, except for the presence of claws instead of nails, and that their skin is thick and black and completely hairless, appearing as if some sort of stylized wetsuit; their skin also possesses strategic folds and seams about the joints to enhance their flexibility, as well as a rigid collar of skin that protects the sides and back of their necks (the skin about the neck being thinner and more flexible, thus more easily damaged), leaving only the throat exposed. Their heads are more variable, some looking human, others looking like some sort of animal; regardless of the animal form of their heads, they always have smooth skin, never hair or fur or scales or feathers. They are always tailless as well (except for the Sutekhi). Their eyes are always red, seeming to glow with an inner radiance. They can occur as males or females, usually based upon the gender of the individual before transformation. Because of the rather self-sufficient design of their bodies, namely the fact that their reproductive organs are internalized, they have little need for clothing, and they wear little if any unless there is a particular reason or preference for it.
There are nine main configuration for the kinds of heads that Imaja possess, each configuration seeming to be selected by the Nexus based upon the personality of the individual, as well as the role that they are assigned within Imaja society. The reason for the animal-headed forms they take seem to stem from the fact that the Nexus does not understand humanity very well. It can rebuild a human body to be stronger and more resilient, but it doesn't understand what a human form should really look like, so it draws upon the subconscious mind of its subject, and finds an idealized form there. Since humans typically think of superior beings as gods, the Nexus searches for images of gods....and the animal-head motif is fairly common there. It is speculated that those Imaja who end up with human-like heads either have a perception of gods as human-like in image, or that they believe humans to be divine.
- Anubi: The Jackal-headed Imajaa are smart, flexible, quick to take initiative and adapt to new situations. Works well in coordinating large groups. Often found in leadership roles within the Order.
- Basti: The Cat-headed Imaja are more reserved and contemplative. Schemers and planners. They tend to work better on their own.
- Khemru: The Ram-headed Imaja are strong-headed and conservative, they see that plans are executed smoothly. Lacking in much creativity, they make good second-in commands for projects, answering to a more versatile superior.
- Useri: The rare Human-headed Imaja are thoughtful and intuitive, they tend to be the deepest and most creative thinkers of the Order. They very easily get lost in tangents of obsessive contemplation.
- Kutkh: The Raven-headed Imaja are good organizers and archivists. Often they are in charge of consulting the Nexus, as well as invoking the memories of dead Imaja to retrieve information. Often considered the closest to the Nexus, putting them in a priest-like role.
- Heru: The Hawk-headed Imaja are scouts and strategists on military matters, planning the defense of Tarlec as well as the rare assaults conducted on other worlds. They maintain the warrior drones that the Imaja rely upon for their defense.
- Wadjeti: The cobra-headed Imaja are colder and more calculating than the others, being especially adept at working on machinery and projects of engineering.
- Sebeki: The crocodile-headed Imaja are an older variation of the warrior caste, primarily responsible for engineering the warrior drones and manufacturing weapons. In the Imperial age they also served as interrogators and executioners. Especially bloodthirsty and savage, the Sebeki have a passion for sadism and violence that is generally unwelcome in the ranks of the modern Imaja. Consequently the surviving Sebeki are usually kept on assignment in remote locations, or are kept in stasis until needed.
- Sutekhi: One of the oldest castes, the Sutekhi have kangaroo-like heads with long erect ears and sharp teeth. They aer unique amongst the Imaja in that they have a digitgrade stance, having long springy legs made for leaping and running, as well as a long, thick tail that allows them to balance themselves while running. They are the old preisthood of the Imaja order, having guided the "lesser" races that worshipped their kind in ancient times. They also served as judges in the older order, dispensing divine justice to human and Imaja alike. In the modern era there are few Sutekhi left, mostly residing within stasis.
There are other kinds of heads that Imaja can have, based upon the whims of the Nexus, possibly reflecting a special mission or purpose that it has in mind. During the Galactic Empire Era there were other apperances that the Imaja could take, but in modern times the above nine are the most common seen. They can occur as males or females, usually based upon the gender of the individual before transformation.
The Imaja are not so much a naturally evolved species as they are a society of scientists and scholars who collectively serve a hyper-dimensional entity that they refer to as "The Nexus". What the Nexus is, exactly, isn't clear even to them, but apparently it is a being that exists in a higher dimension and has a limited ability to interact with our own universe, so it employs the Imaja to explore the universe, conduct experiments, and gather data for it. In return it shares its esoteric knowledge with them. The Imaja have existed as a society for hundreds of thousands of years at least, the earliest references to them dating to the early years of the Galactic Empire Era. The generation of Imaja from that era drew their numbers from the population of Tairez. Even then there were Tairez scholars who thought that the Imaja might have predated them, but had no idea who had first been transformed by the Nexus. Even the most ancient Imaja don't remember that.
The Imajas' distinctive appearance has led to speculation by Terran scholars that they have been in contact with humanity on Earth many times over the ages, influencing certain mythologies, especially those of ancient Egypt.
Culture and ReligionEdit
The Imaja are a democracy in the truest sense, voting on all matters as equals. They do have elders who are greatly revered, but their elders are seen as guides rather than leaders.While they venerate the Nexus in an almost religious sense, they do not regard it as a god....they don't believe in any gods....they merely regard it as a more advanced life form that they can learn from. The Nexus regards them as tools used to explore a universe that it cannot directly interact with. Its ultimate purpose in wanting to explore our universe is unknown. The Imaja don't seem to change much, culturally or technologically, instead spending much of their energies on their esoteric studies. They are also very isolationist and secretive, preferring that most other people have no awareness of their existence, allowing them to conduct their research in peace. Technologically they seem to not be innovators so much as they assimilate knowledge brought to them by new initiates.In terms of personality, they come across as cold, remote, lacking in empathy, and emotionally detached from their surroundings. They are typically so wrapped up in their studies that they give little thought to much else, including social interaction. They do have artistic expression in their culture, but with a preference for the heavily symbolic and esoteric.
Their bodies function as natural hazmat suits, allowing them to survive in extreme climates without need for additional equipment. Their rubbery skin has excellent insulating properties, as well as screening out toxic chemicals. They can tolerate temperatures ranging from 98 C to -100 C, though only for as long as their energy reserves can power the organs needed to balance their internal temperature; their core temperature is 37 C, and while it can vary more than that of a human, it's not by much.
Should they become overwhelmed by extreme cold, they have a natural antifreeze in their blood that protects their tissues from frostbite. Instead of suffering hypothermia they will fall into a state of hibernation until they are warmed up again. They can remain in such a state of hybernation for centuries at the least, possible millennia if fully encased in ice.
Their bodies can withstand pressures up to one hundred atmospheres, as well as the vacuum of space...given time to adjust. Sudden changes in pressure can still be very damaging to their organs.
Their blood is light blue, due to their use of copper-based hemocyanin to carry oxygen, rather than hemoglobin; when deoxygenated their blood is clear. Furthermore their blood glows with a faint blue light which is a result of bioluminescent bacteria that swims through their blood and navigates through their flesh; the bacteria use bioluminescence to communicate with each other and with the nervous system of the Imaja in order to coordinate their activities, usually revolving around maintenence of the Imaja's body. The bacteria help to heal wounds, clean away foreign particles as well as debris left by dead cells and other biological activities, and serve as the first line of defense against pathogens.
Imaja have two hearts: a primary heart that is located in the same place in the chest as a human heart and then a secondary heart, called a brachial heart, that is located slightly to the left of the primary. The brachial heart is responsible for circulating blood through the very extensive network of blood vessels in their lungs, switching the flow of blood to different sections of the lungs depending on the current atmospheric composition. This brachial heart is also responsible for diverting blood to their rebreathing organ when there is no available breathable gas. The two hearts combined with clusters of muscles along the major arteries help to maintain a steady blood pressure in varied atmospheric pressures as well as varying gravity levels (their thick skins also aids in maintaining an steady internal pressure and preventing the swelling of their limbs in conditions of microgravity and vaccum).
Their lungs are highly complex organs, interwoven with a system of tubules that filter atmospheric gasses and enable them to breathe in conditions that would be highly toxic to humans. They can comfotably survive in atmospheres of methane and ammonia, as well as standard nitrogen/oxygen mixtures.
While underwater, or in a vacuum, they can hold their breaths for several hours while engaged in light activity; a specialized organ connected to their lungs scrubs the oxygen supply in their blood, functioning like a rebreather; this process consumes a great deal of their energy reserves.
Their livers and kidneys are excellent filtration systems, screening out poisons and pathogens with great efficiency, making them highly resistant to many poisons and diseases. A side effect of this powerful immune system is that they have no tolerance for alcohol....it causes their bodies to overreact, creating flu-like symptoms as they try to purge the poison from their systems. Alcohol has no pleasant side effects for them, so they typically avoid it. As powerful as their filtration systems are, they have a particular susceptibility to heavy metals, especially osmium. Even small amounts of the metal dissolved into their blood streams can cause liver and kidney failure.
Their central nervous system, including the brain and the eyes, glows red because their nerves use an optical means of transmitting information, utilizing tiny pulses of light that move faster than electrochemical signals, giving them faster reflexes. This also has the benefit of allowing their nervous system to communciate optically with the bacteria that help to maintain their bodies.
Their flesh is slightly denser than that of humans, the skin in particular serving as a light armor against small firearms; a drawback to this is that they are not buoyant in water.
Their eyes are capable of perceiving a broader range of the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing them to perceive wavelengths as low as infrared and as high as ultraviolet.
Since their eyes do radiate red light, they are capable of seeing even in conditions of complete darkness, though only in monochrome in those conditions.
While their eyes are superior in ability, their hearing is more average compared to human and recom standards. Their sense of smell is just around human average, even among those with animal-like muzzles.
All Imaja possess a small, round crystal, roughly the size of a marble, inside of their brains, located close to the pineal gland. The crystal functions as the focus for a short-range radio, utilizing electromagnetic radiation to allow a limited form of telepathy with other Imaja. The crysalline Link is in turn connected to an organic antenna of bundled metallic nerve fibers that runs through their spinal column, operating in the megahertz frequency. Unaided the signal has a range of up to ten miles in flat terrain; on their homeworld there are towers that rebroadcast the signals, allowing them contact with each other anywhere in the world. Their drones, as well as their computers, feature similar crystals so they can be controlled remotely. The signal is electromagnetic in nature and can be blocked by physical shielding. Their Link also allows them to perceive radio frequencies visually, helping them to roughly "see" where such signals originate.
Imaja possess very advanced technology in the present era, but they in fact had even more advanced technology in the Galactic Empire Era. In the aftermath of the Tairez-Imaja war the Imaja had shelved a lot of their most advanced technology, as they scaled back from being a society of conquerers to a society of scholars. Their archives contain information on how to rebuild some of this more advanced technology, but they generally have not had any need to draw upon this knowledge.
In the modern era the Imajas' primary means of FTL travel is the Warp Portal Network; this network allows the Imaja to open portals from their homeworld to virtually any destination in the known universe. Powered by the immense machinery within Tarlec, this network allows the Imaja to explore countless worlds without dealing with the hazards of space travel. During the Galactic Empire Era the Imaja did make use of spacecraft, mainly as weapons platforms and a means of creating a visible projection of power, to intimidate their subjects and their enemies alike. Imaja spacecraft could travel by means of Warp Drive, which they primarily used for intragalactic trips. Their largest ships employed very advanced Jump Drives, allowing them to fold space to any place in the known universe that was already documented in their navigational computers in an instant. The advanced Jump Drives were also rumored to have the ability to venture into other realities.
The Warp Portal Network did exist in a more primitive form in the Galactic Empire Era, allowing a more limited range of instantaenous travel. Another use for their spacecraft in that time was to serve as nodes within the portal network, extending the range to which they could rapidly move personnel and supplies.
In matters of energy production, the Imaja have made widespread use of exotic energy reactors that are capable of producing immense quantities of energy; the writings of the ancient Tairez indicate that they harnessed the power of artificial singularities for use in their most demanding machines. Their starships used to possess such reactors, but in the modern era only the planet Tarlec contains these, those energies being used to power the Warp Portal Network. As far as hand held items go, they either make use of highly efficient batteries, minature fusion generators, or they contain a trans-dimensional link that draws power from the generators on Tarlec.
Most of the Imajas' defense is handled by their drones. The drones are equipped with a combination of built-in poison dart launchers and pulse guns. Larger war drones are equipped with larger guns as well as grenade launchers and plasma lances.
Individual Imaja also possess anti-personnel weaponry that are not greatly advanced beyond the standards of Selvens or Talesians; the most common weaponry being sleek pulse guns, miniaturized gauss weapons, lasers, and particle beam weaponry. They also may possess portable force field generators that can be incorporated into belts, rods, or staves. Those force field generators can produce a protective shield or they can be projected across short distances as a devastating weapon.
Their starship-based weaponry consists primarily of pulse and particle beam weaponry for short range attacks, and torpedoes for long range attacks. They also possess powerful energy shields. Their larger ships have the ability to manipulate gravity to produce crushing waves of force that can tear other ships apart. Their largest ships contain gravity guns that can cause devastation on a planetary scale, ripping apart tectonic plates.