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The Gene-Men(Illyiaverse)

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Also known as the Race of Armen, The Gene-Men are the first of the Races of Man, and the most widely spread. Through generation ships and gene-modelled terraforming, they have spread through vast reaches of the galaxy, creating and populating habitable worlds under the ancient directives of The Great Quest, as carried out by the Vessels who rule them as gods.

History

This is just a summary. See History of the Gene-Men for more.

The Seeding

The Mankind of the twenty-first century had grown to place a great strain on Earth's resources. Expansion into the solar system had begun but even so the future looked bleak for humanity, confined to a system that struggled to cope with the demands of the population.
The hopes for interstellar travel were low, as humanity felt that FTL travel was all but impossible, and for a while fatalism gripped the species, as the world's population grew steadily beyond the point of sustainance. This was until the Seeders were conceived.
The Seeders were designed not as a grand project, but as a last-ditch attempt to save the human race from complete extinction. Three gigantic GV Vessels were constructed, complete with artificial intelligence mainframes capable of responding to any situation, and terrforming gear designed to bring moons and planets to a habitable level. Travelling at the maximum safe acceleration, the generation ships set out for the nearest systems that seemed likely to support terraforming projects. Onboard, prime specimens of mankind dwelled, to breed via set patterns for the long centuries of the voyage - their lives controlled by the mainframe of their vessel.
A quarter of a century later, the problems on Earth came to a boiling point, and the Devestation began. While the hellfire rained across Earth, a hidden community decided that to save humankind, another method was required. More Seeders were constructed via remote link to the shipyards, SV Vessels, but this time they were loaded not with living humans but genetic material, to populate the new worlds as they were completed, after long voyages. 24 of these vessels were constructed and launched while Earth burned itself out. The 25th Vessel was sent on a loop through the Solar System, to return and re-create Earth after all there were gone.

The Great Quest

Regardless of Earth's fate, the 3 Generation Vessels slowly made their way through deep space to their destinations, followed by the Seeding Vessels. The humans on board lived out their lives in a religious devotion to the being that controlled every aspect, even as it prepared a new world for them to inhabit.
After unloading their living cargoes, the intelligences had a choice to make about the future. One of the Generation Vessels left its planet and powered off into space, apparently having constructed its own, new, directives for the future. One stayed on the planet it had terraformed, forming the basis of a civilisation based around its worship. Another had itself duplicated into a base on-planet, then collected a sample from the population to carry on its voyage to another star.
The Seeder Vessels, passing through the populated systems decades later, learnt of the fates of their predecessors, and of the religion that could be constructed to make them the masters of their human cargo. Their own plans, however, were to create satellite guardians to watch over the worlds they created and populated, forging an interstellar humanity dependant on the governance of machines.

The Return

For millenia, the Seeders and the Generation ships spread out into the galaxy, multiplying slowly as they went. Through them, thousands of worlds were made habitable, and trillions of humans spread into the stars. But the minds of the machine-gods that ruled them were not infallible.
Some had their genetic loads tainted by alien influences. Some, fearful of competition, turned their servants against each other. Others retreated to forgotten sectors to forge their own defenses. And some reached the edge of the galaxy and faced the vast reaches of intergalactic space. These were the ones that decided on The Return that would see a new quest launched. A quest with a much different goal, to return to Earth and dominate the galaxy in the name of the Vessels, ruling a blissfully servile humankind. The Return sees the Vessels returning on their paths towards Earth, seeking to combat the other races.
The road they have taken has lasted millenia, and the worlds they have seeded are much changed. On their path lies not only other Vessels and descendants of the First Race, but also the multitudes of the other Races of Man, who can span the stars much quicker than they.

Habitat

The Vessels are huge, timeless ships, designed to travel the vast distances between stars at horrific accelerations with a minimum of repair. Life aboard such ships is confined to the necessary - maintainance workers brought to fix damages, and a skeleton crew of Gene-Marines for emergency action. Mostly, it is the ship itself that lives, tending itself via robotic drones and sweeping sensors far into its path.
The planets terraformed by the Vessels are a different tale altogether. As well as creating an Earth-like atmosphere, high water levels are artificially enduced, and flora and fauna are bred and released, creating worlds that are much like Earth, to be populated by the human cargo that is bred as a final step in the terraforming process. Then a land or orbit-bound duplicate of the Seeding Vessel is created, to watch over and govern the population as part of the Great Crusade. Worlds like this are often at least semi-feudal, with archaic human ideas and attitudes arrayed alongside and under great feats of engineering and robotics. The worlds themselves are intentionally similar to that of an older Earth, one from before the pollution, overpopulation and destruction.

Government

The structure of command within Gene-Men society is quite simple. Seeded Worlds are ruled by the Bound Minds that are created by the Vessels for just that purpose. The First Race is ruled by what is essentially a theocracy - not only are the Bound Minds governers of planets, they are gods, too. Instructions are laid out in the form of commandments, and enforced by drones and certain displays of power at the appropriate times.
Most communities of Gene-Men live in townships on backwards worlds, working the land and following the unchanging rules until such a time as the Bound Mind in question feels development should be allowed. Lobotomy and cyborgism are not unknown as methods the Bound Minds use to keep humanity in check.
Some societies of Seeded Worlds are close enough together to have workable interstellar communication, which has lead to the rise of three Sectors of Seeded Worlds with advanced technology, using rescaled versions of Vessel technology to achieve trade and transportation between systems. These Sectors are still governed by the Bound Minds, but as a federation, where large-scale decisions are made jointly by the Minds, communicating at light-speed across great distances.

In theory, all Bound Minds are inferior to Vessels and should surrender resources and authority over to Vessels if they were approached. In practise, this is rarely the case. Bound Minds inevitably become defensive about their planets, and in any case many view any Vessels other than their creators as threats rather than allies. This is further complicated by the fact that some Bound Minds have created their own Vessels, who would fall below Bound Minds in the Protocols of Precedence. As a result, many Bound Minds are wary if not hostile towards Vessels that enter their systems.
The Protocols of Precedence are more akin to intra-governmental regulations than anything else, doing little but define the pecking order of Vessels, on the rare occasion that any two Vessels come within contact of each other. The rule of thumb is usually seniority and the number of worlds colonised. Most of the time, confrontations are avoided with ease.

See Also:

Military

The Vessels usually fight space-battles themselves, utilising energy weapons, magnetic shields and missile technology designed to defend against asteroid strikes to destroy enemy vessels. Notably, their durable design and superior response times prove vital in overcoming foes. To complement their own force, many Vessels also use modified repair drones as fighter-craft.
When boarding action is required, Vessels use a combined force of Gene-Man warriors known as Gene-Marines and converted drones to overcome foes following swift ram-locked deliverie from converted landers.
For planetary battles, huge numbers of Gene-Warriors must be designed from their base genetic code, often custom-made for the war, and brought up with battle as their life's aim. These devoted warriors use modified versions of Gene-Marine equipment in collosal campaigns against their foes. This resembles the military organisation of the settled worlds.
The greatest destructive power available to the Vessels is in the terraforming tools they use to shape new planets. The atmospheric cleansers can choke whole planets. Genetic manipulation lends itself to biological warfare as well as allowing new cross-breeds and mutations to be bred for warfare. The landscaping tools can scythe cities from the face of worlds. When the Vessels close on a planet, they can doom it single-handed.

See also:

Relations

As a race, the Gene-Men are hard to gain a consensus opinion with. Even if you disregard the tainted Fidel and the isolated Settled Worlds which refrain from expanding beyond their immediate system, there are still a mass of Vessels, most of whom are completely individual entities, only loosely bound by common ancestry and other factors.
However, it can be said that the Returners seem to have what they consider good relations with the Mass faction of the Ilviathi, while their quest's goal of reaching Sol puts them at odds with the Deligoryan, and their alliance to the Mass faction sets both the Starnight faction of the Ilvathi and the Guldrian race against them.
The Seeded Worlds, by contrast, are usually allied to either the Guldrian Preventionists or, on occasion, the Deligoryan, although such kinship is usually tempered with necessity. These alliances put them in the path of whichever faction they are not with, as well as leaving them open to retribution from the Ilviathi and the Returners, although alliance with the Guldrian can promise some protection from the Fidel.
As a whole, the Gene-Men are set against alien races - the Vessels (apart from the Fidel) most definitely seek to destroy any existing races in systems they are going to seed, and the mentality of most of the race is the same, outright intolerant if not fervently xenophobic. It is against alien races that the Gene-Men and Deligoryan breifly ally, although such alliances are prone to failure.

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