The Tahora Whai (/tahoɾa faĭ/), which translates roughly to ‘Followers of the Whales’ in Dynaean Pidgin, are a connected people who survive the harsh reality of space by whaling of the sector’s void-borne megafauna (known as ‘Tahora’ by these Dynaeans) and raiding. While based predominantly around Dynae, in the Teuthem system, the Tahora Whai is composed of a cosmopolitan mix of people who came from across Beacon Space and beyond. Linking all Tahora Whai together is the Vāk, a neural network that enables near-instantaneous communication of thought and emotion via cybernetics. Capable of intense peer-to-peer dialogues of brainwaves, this technology is also able to interface connected individuals simultaneously with the community, manifesting several emergent behaviors and properties recognized as the faction Tahora Whai.
“I am a monster? What an antiquated concept!
How does it feel, the adrenaline coursing through your frail veins? The fear, crawling around your mind like a wounded animal? It must be horrifying, to feel well and truly alone as you die.No, you have it all wrong. We are a monster, and we hunger”
The Vāk and Erinaa
Central in Tahora Whai society sits the neural link—known by the Whai as the Erinaa that is built into the cybernetics of its people. The voice and song of the Erinaa is ever present in each person in the Tahora Whai and allows rapid communication of thoughts and ideas. Enabling this connection, AI systems onboard stations and ships as well as latent harmonies of near-by Tahora megafauna. The collective consciousness of the Erinaa is an emergent property of these interactions, and is not controlled by a single entity, but rather a reflection of the society's wants, thoughts and emotions.
Functionally, the link enables the Whai to work efficiently and in harmony, breaking down the barriers and constraints between the diverse population of aliens and cyborgs. Integration with the neural link varies from person to person. The strength of one’s connection to the link operates on a spectrum and roughly corresponds with social roles and milieu they operate in and their proximity to the amplifying Tahora. When deeply connected to the Erinaa, or otherwise connected with the people around them, Tahora Whai will often sing together, as the system finds melody and rhythms to be a more effective medium than any form of spoken words.
The backbone of the Erinaa is the Vāk, a technological marvel developed 347 Sector years before present during The Great Migration. Creating a pseudo-telepathic connection, the Vāk imitates the poorly understood FTL signals of the Great Tahora. Personal Vāk interfaces with the network are usually incorporated into cybernetic implants and functional tattoos, but varies heavily from person to person depending on species, degree of integration, and personal preference.
Between two people, personal cybernetics and support Vāk communication through touch. Holding hands, hongi, and other close gestures are commonplace among Whai. Joining together, the stream-of-consciousness of thought and emotion may be isolated from others. This connection does not require expensive and complex relay facilities or computer intelligence. Alone, out in the stars, two fellow Whai can unite and communicate effortlessly with merely a touch.
Beyond two individuals, however, the complexity of Vāk conversations increases exponentially and third-party interfaces are required. Most commonly seen aboard Whai starships, advanced computer intelligences empower small isolated communities to connect. Known as The Gam (also used as a verb), this “ship-link” helps unite the crew in collaborative action.
Relay facilities to amplify and focus the natural signal of the Great Tahora within a system. Within a short range Vāk communication and the Erinaa is clearer and more precise without the delays found in conventional technologies. The most impressive relay facilities are found at the heart of both Tinara and Starnaby, two great space stations of Dynae. There, the Tahora Whai tend to a pair of small Teuthemi Leviathans that amplify signals of local Tahora Whai. This complex renders effective links throughout the Teuthem system. While most clear and detailed within the orbit of Dynae, thanks to the Great Tahora, faster-than-light communication can connect individuals across the system.
Smaller facilities, found in a handful of other space stations and bases controlled by the Whai, organs of the megafauna are artificially supported and connected to hives of machines.
Joining the consciousness of the Tahora Whai is a dangerous and mentally taxing process for the uninitiated. The complexity and intensity of conversation was observed to be too much for an individual to endure without extensive preparations but when ultimately connected to the rest of the Whai, a sense of indescribable understanding and compassion is remarked to flood the Whai in their first moments and is irreplaceable and forever bonds the Whai together.
One of the more peculiar aspects of the link is the social resource known as Mana unconsciously perceivable between linked Whai. Loosely translated as spirit, honor, and prowess, Mana is an ambiguous measure of the prestige inherent to an individual. Neither a metric nor value, it is the general feel of a person’s essence as aligning with the ideals of the Whai. A vibe if you will.
The democratized nature of neural cybernetics and the Vāk technology among the Tahora Whai facilitates a society without direct and delineated hierarchies. However prominent Whai may be given the title of Kaiārahi
Direct barter is the preferred medium of exchange between the Whai. However, in many situations, a transfer of goods both ways is cumbersome or infeasible. In such instances, the Whai turn to social credit in the form of Mana. Prestige and honor are exchanged in the transaction in favor of hard currency or discrete recorded credits.
Hoarding assets beyond what is necessary for survival is looked down upon by the Whai. Instead, resources are dispersed evenly and pooled together during times of need. The new age of exploration and expansion has brought great prosperity to the Rangi, though some Whai remain cautious about unfettered and unsustainable investment.
Whai merchants who buy and sell wares with outside groups are the few who will accept foreign currencies. However, these traders prefer direct barter as a more reliable and concrete system. The few vendors in the Rangi who exchange currencies offer some of the least competitive rates in the sector, not to mention their exorbitant handling fees.
Technologies of the Whai
While classically scavengers and raiders, Whai are also have a knack for creating their own gadgets.Dynaean technologies (and thus many Whai technologies influenced by them) by-and-large are bespoke, custom made, artisan and heirloom products. Mass-production is rare unless there is ready access to automation and abundant materials. The bones and other body parts of Tahora are typically integrated into tools, armor, and vehicles for their unique properties or to evoke the power and spirit of the great beasts. Whale bone is commonly used in spacecraft as it requires less refining and is often superior to conventional metals for use in the void. Whai tech is, however, often not made from scratch. Instead equipment is often salvaged, reclaimed, raided, stolen, and sometimes traded. A jury-rigged and scavenged ethos derived from a time of necessity pervades almost all that is found among the Whai.
Whai equipment and tools are highly personalized things. They are as often adorned and illustrated as the bodies of the Whai themselves. Personalization may include the adding and use of charms, scrimshaw, ink, paint, carvings, inlay, gemstones, knotwork, patinas, plating, etching, engraving, and embroidery. Some have commented that this practice of decoration is a way of masking its previous owner, but to the Whai it is adding a new chapter to the piece’s story and allowing its provenance to shine through rather than hide it. A highly decorated, but used and maintained, tool or device is regarded as a prized possession.
Cybernetics are an integral part of the Tahora Whai. The Vāk implants are ubiquitous among the Whai, but it is nearly always the case that Whai have other augmentations and enhancements.
The nature of these cybernetics varies from species to species, and from user to user, but generally consists of some Tahora blood (or synthetic analog) and electrical components. Some alien species cybernetics are fully bio-mechanical while others are only wires and silicon. Before the Vāk, the planet Dynae was one of the sector’s preeminent cybernetics hubs. Military, industrial, and civilian cybernetic augmentations and enhancements designed for ranges of sentient bodies were widely produced on the planet. What knowledge and facilities that survived the Great Cataclysm have continued production and development with the Tahora Whai.
Visible on all Whai bodies are the characteristic tattoos of the west.
The physical representation of Whai tattoos are species dependent. While traditionally described with the language of ink-based skin art, the tattoos of the Tahora Whai may manifest as imbedded lights, pheromones, scars, and sonic signatures. These shapes, smells, and sounds are often copied onto one’s clothing or armor so that they can proudly project their identity and personal history.
Tattoo artistry is a deeply respected art as the skill doesn’t come simply from a steady hand and fine craftsmanship, but are viewed as a seers who can pierce through the physical body, draw forth one’s internal nature and indelibly mark it on one’s skin. Without connecting via a neural link, taking the measure of another Whai takes all but a glance at the other’s ink.
- “Without the link, they may speak silently via their ink.” -- an anthropologist of the Tahora Whai
While regarded as either fearsome raiders or prolific and protective whalers in much of Beacon Space, the Tahora Whai are more than a pair of professions. Even within the groups that tend to predominantly hunt whales or pirate space, few individuals are defined by any one field. Ships and their crews are usually equipped to engage in both industries with many modifications and tools serving dual purposes. Beyond these ships a diverse network of professions consisting of shipwrights, mechanics, salvagers, gunsmiths, armorers, butchers, merchants, traders, cybernetics manufacturers, tattooists, researchers, etc. support what is commonly seen as the ‘average’ Tahora Whai. The popular image of scruffy void-borne menaces of trade falls flat when observing Whai society as a whole, but this image is cultivated to maintain a fearsome reputation.
The great megafauna, or Tahora, of the Rangi and Sector-West are part of the lifeblood of the Tahora Whai. Creatures like the Teuthemi Leviathans (aka Great Tahora) provided the people of Dynae with the resources to endure hardships and the devastation of their world; not to mention the inspiration for the Vāk cybernetics. Whaling has long been practiced in this region of space, even before the genesis of the Tahora Whai.
To the Whai, these megafauna are all noble creatures, and to waste them would be a travesty in their eyes. To kill them for sport or profit is anathema. A healthy population of voidborne megafauna is necessary for the survival and continuance of the Tahora Whai. Management of the Rangi involves the protection of breeding populations of megafauna in sanctuaries and reserves, keeping populations in check through harvesting, and the elimination of the threat posed by violent beasts to the people of the Rangi by either shepherding them to managed reserves or defeating them if necessary. The Whai serve as wardens and keepers of the space that the Whales inhabit.
Between station agriculture, whaling, and proceeds from raiding, the Whai have many sources for food, although hard-won. Whai food is as a result influenced by the old foodstuffs of Dynae and the requirements of void-borne life. Recent expansion of Whai influence into the constellation of the Rangi has brought more dishes to the pirates' tables.
As a consequence of the Vāk link, written communication is uncommon for Whai. Few ever feel the dread of unread emails or walls of text found in end user license agreements. Written accounts and histories are additionally rare outside of engaging with outsiders. Whai tend to prefer an oral tradition of storytelling and song. Memory for details, pleasing wordplay, and simply a good tune are all cherished. Sometimes performed audibly, these works are most powerful understood through their mutual link. When passing Tahora Whai ships find each other in the deep abyss of the void, recounting tales and signing ballads in this manner creates an instant party for these crews.
This tradition may manifest itself as Poems, Sagas, Ballads, Shanties, Worksongs, and War Chants. Some Whai dedicate themselves to the memory and mastery of this medium to preserve it for future generations, they are sometimes called Bards or Skalds.
Examples of stories include:
- The Song of the Beacon - a foundational myth of Dynae that arose after the creation of the Tahora Whai
- Enlightenment of Tiki Kiwa - an origin myth of the Tahora Whai’s neural link
- A Billion Billion Stories - a poem attributed to the skald Rishi Brage, depicting the uniting of the planet Puluhan with the whalers of Dynae
- Frakes Folly by Ishmael
- Hhakangau by Jaynōr
- Hawk by Kāhu Taniwhau
- Link Day by Waiata
The Tahora Whai are a metropolitan community that welcomes dedicated and intrepid folk from across the sector. When Whai speak, a diverse range of languages, accents, and modes of communication are present.
When the first humans found the gleaming planet of Dynae they found an inhabited world full of various alien species. In an attempt to establish a universal planetary language, the human crews constructed a concise and easily teachable tongue. To do so, a limited selection of phonemes and a concise grammatical structure allowed for easy adoption by some native Dynaeans. As foremost an oral language, some species were unable to replicate even the reduced sounds. Over several centuries of mixed use, Dynaean Pidgin has drifted and evolved. Mostly spoken by the human populations, a significant influence from Maori and other Polynesian languages have expanded the sounds of the language. Several sapient species such as the Strigo have also added to the phonology of and created several dialects.
Emari (The Bleed)
Sorgin, users of the mystical powers of The Emari, are fairly uncommon among the Tahora Whai. Use of the Dynaean words for the phenomena fell out of practice and were effectively lost until the discovery of the ancient ruins over Langgan.
- Emari - the gift or magical force that permeates the sector - aka The Bleed
- Sorgin - a user of the arcane Emari, plural Sorginak - aka Lens
- Akelarre - a group of Sorginak working in concert, often used to describe the creatures of Langgan's Ruin
The secrets and arcane rituals of Dynae's sorginak were lost during the devastation of the planet. Through the incorporation of new folk into the Whai, Sorginak have joined the Whai. Vāk connections these Emari users are often muted or muffled out of an overwhelming caution for all parties. As such, there is mild trepidation and overwhelming curiosity regarding the Emari among non-users.
The improbable events that occur around regular users of the emari may be seen as bad luck onboard other starships in the sector. But to the adventurous Whai, sorginak are seen to amplify the inherent mystery of space. Ever the storytellers, Whai crews encourage sorginak on their expeditions because they often make already treacherous missions more eventful and exciting. Although it might heighten the danger, the chance that million to one odds ship maneuvers can work seem to be much more plausible. Strange occurrences, unpredictable oddities, and impossible timings seem to follow these ships. Ballads about these journeys naturally take on an increased cinematic or theatrical flavor.
Manitou Bleed Temple
A powerful site of Emari energies in the Kuafu system over the planet Langgan once hidden in a strange gravitational anomaly. After its discovery by the crew of The Rānzo, the temple's presence reached out to the lead Sorgin explorer, Tirta Alhaji, and has been an oracle to the Tahora Whai.
Dynae, the home planet of the Tahora Whai was first colonized centuries before the creation of the Vāk and before the arrival of Humans to the sector. Once a paradise world, it’s bounty was fought over centuries by rival factions until the breakthrough of a new technology. Inspired by the semi-telepathic communication of the local Megafuana, researchers discovered a means of replicating the link. Adoption of this technology 347 years ago by sector reckoning is marked as the beginning of the Tahora Whai as a political entity and the beginning of the modern Tuethemi Calendar.
Dissidents and luddites arose in response. These The Discordant waged a war against the Whai for three decades culminating in the Great Fleet Battle of Jotun. It was believed that the Discordant were gone, if not defeated, but on the anniversary of the battle counter-revolutionary agents unleashed a calamitous weapon against the planet Dynae. The attack rendered the planet all but inhospitable and set the Whai on a course of rugged survival, raiding, and piracy to try to rebuild their homeworld. Reconstruction of Dynae was slow, taking three centuries but the Tahora Whai endured.
Exploration into the west and collaboration with other factions in the Telas TerraGroup Initiative would ultimately deliver salvation for the planet. Currently the Whai are consolidating their influence in the western reaches of Beacon Space in a region known as Kikorangi o te Tahora Whai.
Kikorangi o te Tahora Whai
In many of the hexes Sector-West of Beacon Space’s Center system, travel for non-whai is severely interrupted by the presence of Dynaean ships. These systems are collectively known as Kikorangi o te Tahora Whai, or simply The Rangi.
People of Tahora Whai
Whai, meaning ‘Guides’ or ‘Followers’ depending on the exact context, are people connected to the Vāk and considered part of the culture of pirates and whalers as seen on Dynae. The rich history of Dynae incorporates centuries of discovery and migration of various peoples including Strigo, Grumm, Brigans, and Humans.
A cephalopod-like species of alien who claim the first discovery of Dynae when the Gates were first opened. Their name comes from the first humans who observed the dished facial-disks in the Strigo’s head as similar to that of owls and strigiformes. Strigo have exceptional hearing, lithe tentacles well-adapted for microgravity, and a tonal whistle-language.
Heavy-set scaly species of reptilian aliens who arrived on Dyane during The Age of Colonization. With deep gravelly voices, they are able to speak most languages and have immense respect for the mores of community and social roles.
Small crustacean-like aliens, Brigan communicate through a sign-language but often prefer to link via the Vāk. Brigan history is hard to pin down, some sources indicate that they came to Dyane with the Strigo hidden aboard their ships. They form close bonds with childhood friends and often perch on the shoulders of fellow Whai.
Perhaps the most populous group of Whai, Humans arrived in Dynae at much the same time as they did elsewhere in the sector, cerca 645 Sector Reckoning . Upon their arrival, the human colonies decided to adopt a constructed language (based on Maori and other Polynesian languages) with limited phonemes to teach to the local Dynaeans. The Humans of Dynae were not from any one location but carried many influences from Oceania into the culture of the planet.
A slender scaled species with vestigial wings. Brax populations on Dynae were decimated during the planet’s countless civil wars. The final death knell for the Brax almost came with the Great Calamity, but a meager population managed to settle in orbit just prior to the attack.
Although not a distinct species, the rugged survivors of Dynae’s great cataclysm are often regarded as a coherent entity. Amidst the wasted surface and badlands, several generations of people have eked out a living in the shifting sands and inhospitable atmosphere. Estimates of the population varies, but most scholars assume that only a fraction have adopted the link.
Non-Dynaeans and New Whai
Although suspicious of many outsiders as potentially surviving descendants of The Discordant, the Whai welcome all who seek to broaden their understanding and deepen their empathy with the link. People of many different stripes from across Beacon Space may find home and community among the Whai.
Altered Humans of the planet Puluhan in the Nusantara System. They are distinct from other humans and are characterized by thick, callused skin, an absence of body hair, and nictitating membranes protecting their eyes. Many Puluhanni joined the Tahora Whai after Whai fleets rescued the planet from the menace of the Antaboga, a void-snake that disrupted space travel in Nusantara.
- Shalini Mageo - The Faction Representative at the Telas TerraGroup Initiative
- Rishi Brage - Skald of the Whai
- Häl Gillmin - “Beacon Times” news reporter for Sector West and the Rangi
Langgan Ruin Explorers
- Alhaji - A bleed-sensitive archeologist exploring the ruins of Langgan currently an oracle of the Temple
- Beamish - Helmsman of the exploratory vessel over Langgan
- Zakk Neuberg - Gravitational Lens aiding in the ruin exploration
Fictional and Historical
- Hakina Paraone - Historical, Lead Researcher of Teuthemi Leviathans and co-founder of Tahora Whai communication technology
- Tiki Kiwa - Alledged first user of the Tahora Whai's Vāk and the eponymous hero of the myth Enlightenment of Tiki Kiwa
- Paku Tangaroa - A personified Great Tahora made famous by the myth Enlightenment of Tiki Kiwa
- Ezekiel Blacktallow
- Melrakki Whēkau - eccentric shipwright
- Rusty - Free Agent
OOC Faction Truths
- Ritualistically tattoos themselves to show of their achievements
- Space whalers and pirates
- Have a neural network of Artificial intelligence and cyborgs, both human and alien
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