Helocytus

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Helocytus
Helocytus.png
Government Children of the Vein
System Thuces
Tech Level 4
Population Millions
Atmosphere Breathable Mix
Biosphere Miscible
Temperature Temperate
Planet Tag 1 Local Tech
Planet Tag 2 Mandarinate
Sector map position of Helocytus.

Heloyctus (Hi-loʊ-saɪ-tʊs) is the homeworld of the Children of the Vein.

History[edit]

Centuries ago, the first of those who would become part of the Children of the Vein arrived in Beacon Space, settlers searching for whatever it was that had called them. By the time they arrived, the Beacon’s source seemed to have fallen silent. Its precise origin could not be determined, and many of the nearby worlds were unpopulated, abandoned, or inhospitable. Nonetheless, some managed to make landfall on a world of astounding beauty - Helocytus.

Helocytus’ air was breathable, its temperature amenable, and a great number of its flora and fauna miraculously edible. From orbit, a towering specimen of megaflora was spotted, the boughs of a great tree stretching thousands of feet through the atmosphere. Landing parties established outposts in the shade of its broad leaves, and researchers were quick to begin studying it, fascinated by the strange, red, blood-like sap that flowed through the tree's limbs, the bodies of smaller trees like it, and into the earth of Helocytus. But as work began, scouting parties started returning wounded or not at all, bringing reports of violently aggressive wildlife with them. Helocytus’ treasures were well guarded. And as many would eventually discover, they were also a rarity within Beacon Space.

The first years of colonization were wearying and deadly. Fighting back the thick, barbed vines and dense jungles of Helocytus expended tools and resources quickly, dulling blades and damaging heavier equipment. The planet’s greatest beasts, forged by nature to survive bleak deserts, jagged mountains, and twisted forests of hungry flora, soaked round after round of ammunition, some needing a dozen or more fighters to bring them down. And with tensions and desperation mounting, groups of settlers began to turn on each other, fighting to make Helocytus their own. The planet was dangerous, but it was livable. And ship after ship of settlers would arrive over the following years, hoping for new lives, but succumbing to violence and bloodshed...

Read more: Children of the Vein

Attributes[edit]

Helocytus is a populated TL4 world in the Thuces system with a temperate climate, a breathable atmosphere, and a somewhat miscible biosphere, though the native life of the world is known to be fairly hostile to individuals that have not experienced Vein bio- and genetic-modifications. It is a strange and alien world of sweeping seas of red grass, towering trees of pale bark and crimson veins, vibrant iridescent oceans, multi-colored and hungry jungles writhing with life, immense and deadly subterranean biomes, and odd creatures of all shapes, colors, and sizes.

The planet tags are Local Tech and Mandarinate.

Local Tech: "The locals can create a particular example of extremely high tech, possibly even something that exceeds pretech standards. They may use unique local resources to do so, or have stumbled on a narrow scientific breakthrough, or still have a functional experimental manufactory."

  • A strange macromolecule known as the "Blood of God" runs through the crust of the planet, found to to be harvestable from much of the local megaflora, "Blood Trees" servicing as a particularly potent source. The Blood of God is a complex genetic manipulator, which, when deliberately introduced into organic biology, appears to dramatically alter the genetics of the target body, making them seemingly more malleable to genetic redesign and bioengineering. The influence of this macromolecule is seen all throughout the Helocytus biosphere, as the Blood of God has become deeply ingrained in the genetics of all local organic life on the planet, as well as much of the Vein people and biotechnology. It is this Blood of God that gives the Vein the ability to achieve such advanced and uniquely incredible scientific and technological feats in the fields of biology and genetics.

Mandarinate: "The planet is ruled by an intellectual elite chosen via ostensibly neutral examinations or tests. The values this system selects for may or may not have anything to do with actual practical leadership skills, and the examinations may be more or less corruptible."

  • The government of the Children of the Vein is run by an accomplished intellectual elite collected from the best of the best in a variety of fields and specializations across the many collected clan Veins, with higher government functions controlled by Hemisphere Logos representatives, and lower local government functions controlled by Hemisphere Pathos representatives. Each Vein must be represented in both Hemispheres, with Logos and Pathos representatives all coming from such diverse professional backgrounds as scientists, priests, ship captains, military leaders, and more. The Children of the Vein value skills, productivity, and the capacity and drive to learn in a leader above all. And it also just so happens that many of those in the highest offices of the Vein tend to be the most genetically modified on a fundamental level, whether those modifications are physically apparent or hidden and subtle.

Notable Locations[edit]

A place for notable locations on the planet to be listed and described, potentially linking to a more detailed page. For example faction bases of influence, cities, spaceports, etc.

Cities[edit]

Providence, the Great Tree[edit]

Planetary capital, primary starport, and major population center of Helocytus, beneath which lies the Forbidden Citadel of Veins. Providence is a gargantuan, pale-skinned blood tree with deep, crimson veins through which the Blood of God flows, its highest boughs reaching through the upper atmosphere and into the low orbit vacuum of space where vast, star-faring bio-ship creatures are birthed from viscous pods, while the deepest roots of the tree descend through unknown and incredible depths within the crust of the planet and beyond to eldritch sights unseen. Upon its limbs, the Children of the Vein have built their greatest city, with the highest reaches servicing safe harbor, trade, and tourism for all comers, while the lowest depths remain entirely hostile to unmodified or non-native life. All the clan Veins maintain some presence here, though many of the greater Veins have other territories, holdings, and cities across the planet.

Expand here for more.

You can see it from space - a colossal, bone-white tree breaching through the lower atmosphere of the world, its roots embedded in the crust of what might have once been a mountain range. From a distance, its enormous leaves appear almost iridescent, its foliage displaying every color in the visible spectrum. A constant stream of glittering vessels, both mechanical and biological, make their way to and fro between this towering tree and the jump points of the system like shimmering pollen in a dark void. From the highest boughs and branches, gigantic, swollen amber sacs of amniotic fluid hanging like grotesque fruit writhe and distend with the activity of growing fetal bio-ship creatures half-seen through the semi-transparent skins of their birthing sacs, waiting to burst forth and make their first forays into the deep, dark void for which they were born. This is Providence, the Great Tree, primary starport of Helocytus and holy capital city of the Children of the Vein.

The Tree is home to millions of residents of nearly every known sapient species, and plays host to further tens of millions of bio-drones of every shape, size, and function. Enormous transit-pedes skitter up and down the boughs of the tree-city ferrying along hundreds of the diverse and colorful residents of this place, while sleek organic shuttle-flies zip deftly through the space between branches to swiftly navigate private passengers around the city’s hanging heights. The Tree is a constant buzz of activity, but don’t be fooled by the crowds: many of the strange creatures and odd simulacra of “people” making their way across the branches are only mindless bio-drones, bio-engineered beasts of burden with no capacity for higher thought or emotion - hulking monsters, skittering insects, and faceless humanoids, all born of the blood of their parent masters and bonded to their service without capacity for question or sentience, like so many extra limbs.

Life for the city’s residents is an idyllic experience of stunning cloud-top vistas upon hanging branch oases, each like its own island paradise in the sky. Water and oxygen flows through the limbs of the Tree providing fresh sustenance for all, with lakes, springs, and waterfalls forming on its mountainous bark and massive leaf structures with fresh air being plentiful even among some of the highest branches. The Tree itself consumes the waste and pollutants of its residents and visitors, absorbing and consuming the matter naturally, winning Providence several awards as one of the cleanest cities in the sector.

Though a popular destination for foreign travelers, first-time visitors to the Tree often find their first experience at the great port city of Helocytus to be an awkward adjustment. Though amenities, utilities, and services are plentiful, the nature of life among the Veins requires an open mind regarding the nature of technology. Conventional electronics and machines are a rare sight here, for everything on the Tree, as with much of Helocytus, is provided for through bio-engineering and organic constructs. Electrogenic organ cables like those found in eels carry electricity where it’s needed to interface with the electronics of foreign devices for the convenience of visitors, soft-skinned bioluminescent bulbs provide light, fine micro-hairs in shielded organic receptors reminiscent in appearance to gorgonian coral capture and project wireless signals used by communication devices, chameleonic chromatophores on screen membranes act as high definition image and video displays, and more. For every technology, there is an organic alternative. “Providence provides,” as they say.

At Providence, wealth and influence is a descent into power, rather than the ascending heights of mighty towers and penthouses on so many other worlds. The upper reaches of the Tree are reserved for the docks, berthing limbs, visiting ship crews, military forces, and lower class labor stratas of the tree city’s population. The people here at the highest heights of the Great Tree are the diligent and faithful many who serve the city with pride, and are often among the least biologically modified people to be found on Helocytus. Below this level, visitors find the commercial and trade districts, a colorful and lively place where people and cultures blend, a major attraction for tourists to the city and center of business for merchants. The colorful light that filters between the branches and through the many enormous and varied colored leaves here makes for a beautiful and unique experience for all. This layer of the Tree is also the number one destination for medical tourism in the sector, with all manner of medical services, bio-engineering, and gene-editing available to visitors here. Further down the Tree, the primary residential districts can be found, as well as the city’s administrative centers and the major headquarters for many major sector-wide Vein industries like the New Eden Gene Bank. Lower down around the base of the trunk of the tree city, the Vein elites make their homes in guarded estates. Many different Vein clans have centers of operation and residence at this level for their leaders and highest offices, as Providence is host to the seat of government for the entirety of the Children of the Vein. This layer of the city is restricted to outsiders, not only for the security of the residents at this layer, but also for the safety of the visitors - biologically unmodified individuals are prone to attracting the hostilities of much of the extremely deadly wildlife that roams freely around the tree’s base, while native residents that have undergone extensive treatment and modification with Vein clinics are largely left undisturbed.

Finally, within the deep, dark depths below the city lies the secretive Forbidden Citadel of Veins, from which the Hemispheres Logos and Pathos govern the Children of the Vein. Little is known of the Forbidden Citadel, but it is said to be from here which the Veins have the closest access to GOD, and the paths to the subterranean citadel are patrolled by wandering, terrible, eldritch creatures from the deepest depths of the planet.

Between its many mysteries and marvels, Providence remains a popular destination for travelers all across Beacon Space. It is a city of rare beauty and ingenuity, a wonder among wonders, the Great Tree of Miracles, making every visit a rewarding experience for all.

The Garden of Beasts[edit]

The floating, tropical swampland city known for its wild and open sprawl across the deadly watery wilderness. Large and genetically modified serpents, salamanders, and other amphibious creatures use strutting, bony growths on their backs to ferry the strange and colorful denizens of the Garden to and fro between bulbous, floating plant-like buildings. The people live and work in these massive lotus flowers and upon lilypad platforms, each emitting a soft, bio-luminescent golden glow through their transparent membranous walls as the diverse and dangerous fauna patrols the waterways and buzzes lazily through the humid air. Many of the creatures and people of the Garden of Beasts are born in these waters, birthed from egg sacs in spawning pools and preyed upon by hungry predators. Priestly scientists armed with spears do battle over theory and theology in public spectacles upon the backs of great shelled beasts, while gene-editing designers string up corpses and organs through the open air upon the boughs of glowing willow trees as they search for inspiration for their next designs. The Garden of Beasts is the seat of power for the zealous and militant Vein of the Hydra, one of the major clans in the Children of the Vein, known for their heavily apparent bio-modifications, extensive drone production, and advanced bioshell designs.

Expand here for more.

I was looking down upon swampland. It was just another feature of the sprawling, deadly environments of Helocytus, different from the rest in the way that a jungle may be different from a plain, but still, I was certain that what I beheld before me was little more than wilderness. Then the craft began its descent. “This… this is the city?” I asked, incredulous.

“No,” replied my guard, “this is no city. This is the Garden.”

For the health and well-being of my readers, I must preface this section of the Traveler’s Guide to Helocytus with this: I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone foreign to this world ever visits the false city of the Garden of Beasts. However, for those that find themselves here by necessity, circumstance, or daring, I only pray that you come armed. The Garden is a violent and dangerous place in the embrace of a deadly wilderness where hungry predators lurk in dark waters… but it is, perhaps, the people that call this place home that you must be most wary of.

Apart from a dangerous encounter with a particularly nasty Hellwasp, we were accosted by the local denizens three times between the morning of our arrival and our departure on the following day. Twice, those encounters escalated into violence… and once, it ended in death. I’m not one known for martial prowess, and at the time, my use of apparent cybernetics attracted undue attention from some of the more zealous locals. Fortunately, my guide and guardian was a former resident of this place, and what’s more, she was a champion of the Games. After that third, deadly confrontation, it seemed we had earned some respect among the more violent elements and were largely left alone for the rest of our stay.

It is important to regard the cultural elements of the people of the Garden of Beasts, which would also be a remark on some of the lesser known and unseen elements of the Children of the Vein at large by extension. Several Vein clans have a presence in the Garden of Beasts, but it is the Vein of the Hydra that claims the Garden as their seat of power. To those involved at the highest levels of state in the greater Beacon Space sector, they may be familiar with the Hydra’s diplomats, who play a significant role in preserving the interests and values of the Children of the Vein within the competing space of interstellar politics, but beyond that, the Hydra largely operates outside of the spotlight of Children of the Vein’s medical tourism, missionary work, and trade networks. Nevertheless, the Hydra is a major power in this burgeoning polity: they are the warriors, the priests, and most important of all, the monster-makers.

The Vein of the Hydra leads a radical fundamentalist bloc that eschews electronics and conventional technologies on Helocytus entirely, believing the purpose of every technology or scientific innovation can be accomplished with bio-engineering - and thus far, they haven’t been proven wrong. The large bulk of the Veins sail through the void on living ships that resemble sea creatures more than conventional starfaring vessels, they build living drones of blood and bone in place of machines, they join in symbiotic union with sentient, hulking organic monstrosities they call bioshells in place of the mechs of other empires, and all communication and media is serviced and provided through organic alternatives. It is no secret of course that the Children of the Vein maintain their hegemonic influence not just through trade and economics, but by force - despite their strange ways, the weapons, bioships, drones, and bioshells of the Children of the Vein make their martial bio-technologies a premiere competitor across Beacon Space, and the Vein of the Hydra plays no small part in many of this interstellar nation’s deadliest and most cutting edge designs. Thus the Hydra is self-assured in its righteousness, and they back up that sentiment with a fanatical martial pride - survival of the fittest is everything to them, and in the Garden, you must earn your survival.

So you may be wondering, is murder illegal in the Garden of Beasts? Well, that’s a complicated question, but the simplest answer I can give is no. There are conditions, of course, as one might expect - challenges and duels over any number of matters, but especially those of philosophical differences, are commonplace here. The spectacles of violence between theologians often draw crowds seeking affirmation in their beliefs, and achieving victory through the death of your challengers is respected. Of course, this leads to sometimes mercurial philosophies as one philosopher wins a duel and ends up slain by the next. Ultimately, you cannot change the philosophy of an entire culture by winning a single fight as who knows what the next challenger brings, but you can reaffirm the righteous self-assuredness of all in a culture of violence and might through the simple act of participating in it. One is of course free to use their own abilities to defend themselves against sudden attackers with the use of deadly force in the Garden as well, but a cowardly, hidden attacker is looked down upon, and if their name becomes known, the justice of Beasts will surely see them dead in a week.

Despite it all, I would be remiss not to tell you that the Garden’s wild beauty is really something to behold. The way the proud and colorful people travel along the waterways across the Garden on the backs of magnificent amphibious ferry-beasts is quite a sight to behold, it is how the Garden of Beasts truly earns its namesake. However, the feral beauty of this place only really reveals itself when it comes alive at night. The floating swampland megaflora upon which the denizens of this place make their homes and live their lives unveils their brilliance in the dark as their soft, golden bioluminescent glow paints a stunning picture of a shining garden offering shelter in the darkness. Night is the time of carousal and merriment for the otherwise severe residents of this false city, every night a colorful celebration of life and freedom as the hunters haul in great, massive beasts for the communal, nightly feasts. Even a heathen and outsider like myself was invited to celebrate along like family, sharing in some of the most savory and delicious meat I’ve ever had, our differences by day forgotten and forgiven by dusk, only to be remembered again in the morning.

Though I hesitate to ever visit the Garden again, it will remain as an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

And more...[edit]

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