The Sentinel Worlds
|Star||:||Liantha (yellow, G3V)|
|Orbital distance||:||0.9 AU|
|Orbital period||:||315.470 days|
With an axial tilt of almost 43%, Spheris is renowned for its wildly delienated seasons. It is also, without doubt, home to a lifeform even more bizarre than that of Haydon IV.
Spheris itself is a departure from the norm; there is no liquid water to speak of and carbon seems to be scarce. The most common element on the planet is silicium, present - with some impurities - as a quartz-like crystal called 'risia', reminiscent of the piezo-electric crystals of Earth. While agglomerations the size of a mountain exist, the most common size for the risia crystals is on the order of microns, an aglommeration of a dozen-or-so atoms. These microlodes seem to have been ground down to their current size from larger deposits by the never-ceasing winds which play across the planet in a chaotic pattern.
Risia is an interesting crystal, one which forms the basis of many of today's technological instruments. Capable of converting sunlight to energy with an efficiency approaching 91%, risia is also capable of storing it - the larger crystals have, on occasion, discharged themselves when the potential held was too great. Walking around on Spheris is, for non-Spherians, an experience which requires heavy insulation to be worn - mild shocks from the 'ground' are common and a few deaths a year occur due to a heavy discharge from a nearby storage-crystal.
Another property of risia is the fact that it is very sensitive to radiations of various kinds, depending on the size and shape of the reception crystal. When Karbarrans first discovered Spheris in 812 C.E., almost-immediate uses could be found for even raw Spherian crystals in power-conduits and sensor equipment. The more sensitive of the Robotech Masters' Protoculture sensors were found to contain exquisitely carved risia crystals at the heart of their machinery, and Spherian crystals are at the centre of the Expeditionary Force's EM warfare technology.
Life on Spheris did not evolve but seems to have spouted fully formed in the shape of the Spherians - formless masses of microlodes with the ability to think and move. How this happened is not known, although the current theory calls for Spheris to have encountered an anti-matter meteorite. The resultant detonation would have been sufficient, according to the theory's proponents, to start the life-cycle of the modern-day Spherian.
But what is a Spherian? To understand the answer, one must first come to terms with the fact that as far as Spherians are concerned, *who* they are defines *what* they are. Indeed, a Spherian at rest is nothing more than a blob of microlodes with no discernable shape. To understand this, it is necessary to take a step backwards and look at the strange creation process that produced the Spherian.
Spheris, for most of its existance, was a sterile planet covered with seas of microlodes, akin to the Marea of Earth's moon. In 8240 B.C.E., at best estimate, something upset the balance of Spheris' microcosm. As stated before, the current theory calls for an anti-matter meteorite - but whatever the exact nature of the catastrophy, a large amount of both 'hard' and 'soft' radiation was released upon the planet. Somewhere, maybe in multiple places, a set of microlodes began to resonate with the radiation and to create a self-sustaining resonance amongst the individual microlodes. The result was a series of piezzo-electrical discharges strangely analogous to the firing of neurons in a Terragen brain.
Life had arrived on Spheris.
The exact manner in which the Spherian creation happened can only be guessed at. Since most of their energy came from solar emissions, the first Spherians must have had a large surface-area to allow for as much exposure to sunlight as possible - Liantha seems to supply 'food' to the Spherians at about 4.1 food calories per second per square meter, requiring a modern-day Spherian to spend about 4 hours a day in Liantha's sunlight to sate its energy requirements. Due to the nature of the terrain, there is very little free water on Spheris; what water lies on the ground soon either evaporates from the sun or from the surface-discharge of the risia crystals. As such, there are large banks of clouds forever roaming the planet dragged around by Spheris' chaotic winds. Sometimes, these clouds gather and a period of darkness begins in the area, with Liantha's sunlight blocked. When this darkness continues for a couple of days, as can happen sometimes, Spherians must find other means to nourish themselves.
Subsequent 'generations' of Spherians moved towards smaller, more compact forms. This might surprise some, for if the entire body of a Spherian is made of risia microlodes and if microlodes are where a Spherian's consciousness resides, surely the more microlodes the better. Not quite. Soon after the Spherians were 'born', mobility came into being. In this, the Spherians found that the pattern of their thoughts quite distinctively modified their appearance - a Spherian can move by literally thinking itself to where it wants to go. But the larger the mass, the greater the concentration - and the energy - required by the Spherian to hold a particular shape. As Spherians discovered the energy accumulation and storage capabilities of the larger risia crystals, Intelligence-potential battled with practicality, and in the end practicality won - the smaller and more mobile of the Spherians became the prominent lifeform on Spheris, at the cost of increased reliance on the energy-storing crystals.
It is interesting to note that some Spherian traded on their intelligence in return for an increase in mobility and energy management. The Spherians became small, spherical blobs of risia with the occasional tentacle as required, their intellect pared to the minimum, barely more intelligent than a Terran panther - and just as deadly. The Spherian predator had appeared, a blob of risia no larger than twenty centimeters in diameter, but capable of incredible speed and with a tenacity equal to none. These predators, hunting alone, would stalk a 'normal' Spherian, then attack one of its limbs, interrupting the flow of energy withing the organ and taking it for itself. Sometimes, if the predator was sufficiently gorged, it would use the risia from the prey's own limb to create a duplicate of itself... a hungry duplicate at that (see sections on Spherian combat and procreation). The Spherians react to these predators in roughly the same manner a Human would react to the approach of a crocodile or a great white shark.
The physical make-up of a Spherian is in itself very simple - a mass of risia microlodes whose functions differ slightly depending on the arrangement of connections between groups of microlodes. Spherian sensory instruments are geared towards receiving and transmiting electro-magnetic radiation - although a set of vibratory organs akin to the ears and throat were later developed to aid in communicating with non-Spherians. The sense of touch, for example, comes from variation in electrical properties of their 'skin' as the object comes into contact, much akin to the way optical fibres are used in many modern-day structures to detect and calculate stresses upon the structure. The sense of smell, on the other hand, is completely unknown to a Spherian, as is taste - although an analogue of 'taste' can be made with the sensations felt by a Spherian as it agglomerates more risia microlodes into its body.
With the development of both motive power and superior energy management capabilities, it was only a matter of time before disagreements arose between the Spherians. A Spherian cannot be hurt as a carbon-based lifeform can be - there are no pain centers, nor any nervous system to speak of. When you physically rip an arm off a Spherian, all you end up with is a handful of rapidly-melting microlodes and a slightly lobotomised (and severely annoyed) Spherian. The extent of the 'lobotomy' has been greatly reduced over the years by the shifting of nearly all of a Spherian's consciousness to the main body mass and only keeping as much mental functions in the limbs as is required to give them shape and movement. For a Spherian, healing 'wounds' is as simple as going to a free source of microlode and absorbing some of it back into the body-mass and re-learning the missing memories and skills. In the most severe of cases, a personality shift is noted but it is considered impolite in Spherian society to comment upon it. As such, Spherians would seem to be both indestructible and immortal. But this is nowhere near the truth. The dangers to Spherians are themselves, boredom and, lastly, civilisation (We will leave out energy-starvation as obvious and not necessitating going into).
During Spherian history, wars have been found where Spherians died from extreme trauma. To a Spherian, this happens when there is no longer enough body-mass to keep the resonant waves, the 'Spherian consciousness', going within the Spherian. Throw a large enough boulder at a Spherian and you shatter its body, killing it.
Another way a Spherian can be killed by another Spherian is by personal duels, where the two Spherians melt into one mass and the two intelligences vie for supremacy of the body. Eventually, one of the 'consciousnesses' will be overwhelmed by the other and suffer the Spherian equivalent of death. To the winner, several things can happen - it may have suffered too much damage to its consciousness, or it may have used too much energy in the struggle. If either of these cases happens, the winning Spherian generally dies soon after its victory. If a Spherian suffers mental damage but does not die, it may spend a long time in rehabilitation before it can interact with society again. If the winner does not die, it is generally left with the body mass of two Spherians to occupy. Usually, the winner will simply remove its consciousness from the extra mass and discard it. However, if it chooses to do so and has enough of an energy reserve, the Spherian may choose to first place a duplicate of its mental processes into the extra risia mass and spawn a new Spherian, what carbon-based lifeforms would consider a clone of itself. Eventually, though, the new clone develops a personality of its own due to the differences in stimuli between itself and its parent. It should also be noted that spawning did occur outside of warfare; a Spherian would gather a mass of risia microlodes, then clone itself into it. This method, however, was (and still is) much more prevalent during the summer period, although the amount of spawning during the year was barely enough to keep the total population of Spheris above the Zero Population Growth level.
Since a Spherian's outward appearance is determined by the mind-set of the Spherian, it is possible to see Spherians in any conceivable shape. A quivering mound of microlode is typical of a Spherian deep in thought. But this also presents another problem to the Spherians - if mental activity is not kept up, the Spherian starts dissolving until, once again, there is no longer enough body-mass to sustain high-level mental activity. Past a certain point, this 'depression' is fatal and no amount of help will save the afflicted Spherian.
The last source of danger for a Spherian comes from high-powered technological artefacts. Any high-energy discharge near a Spherian would literaly shatter its intelligence. A constantly running power source, like a generator or a deep-freeze, would result in the Spherian equivalent of madness. Luckily, a method of dampening these 'modern emanations' was developed by the Karbarrans to allow Spherians longer contact with the other races. This method was eventually used by the Robotech Research Group as the basis for the theory behind the Electro-Magnetic baffling used on REF Mecha after Spheris' liberation in 2029 C.E.
Spheris society, unlike Terran society, evolved around the need for energy absorption and not the need for procreation. Small tribes evolved and defended their energy-storing microlode nodes. Winter was an especially trying time for the Spherians - with the sunlight reduced, they would become fiercely competitive and wars would errupt for the control of energy-absorbing crystals. Spherian attrition was high during winter, but somewhat mitigated by the fact that the winner, having won control of an energy-source, was very likely to spawn off a new Spherian after its victory.
An interesting development from these winter wars was the Spherian ability to travel vast distances around Spheris. First developed as a means to surprise the enemy, the Spherians soon became aware that with intense concentration they could melt their body-mass back into a risia-sea and move their conciousness with great speed towards their destination. A set-back of the early attempts to use this mode of transportation was the amount of energy consumed by this - an attacking Spherian would more likely than not arrive short of energy and be easily defeated. From this rose the concept of war-groups and, in some instances, even armies. It is interesting to note that even to this day, energy-stations are available on the shores of the Spherian seas.
As such, the Spherian society soon developed as a feudal one, with 'lords' presiding over hordes of energy-crystals. Wars became few and far between, but even more destructive when they did happen. With a lack of metals, combat was still limited to hand-to-hand and, in some cases, mind-to-mind. The population of Spheris eventually settled to around the 1.5 billion mark. While some of the combatants did discover a way to create crude lasers from the crystals, the chance of a rebound from a stray shot made these long-range weapons impractical, especially in light of the fact that a Spherian could simply increase its bulk and absorb most of the energy fired at it, given enough of a warning and risia microlodes.
Then, in 812 C.E., a Karbarran scout vessel landed on Spheris. Luckily, the landing itself was made well away from any settlements, and thus the ship's engines did not disrupt any Spherians. The Karbarrans were surprised by the crystal planet and risia's ability to absorb and refract any radiation directed towards it. Attempts to negotiate were immediately started with the Bahevor settlement for the export of large risia crystals. Eventually, the Karbarrans discovered that Spherians, while unable to hear them speak, could pick up some of the Karbarran radio transmissions by natural means. Transmitters were modified to appropriate frequencies and a language-exchange soon followed. By 813 C.E., Karbarra's major power stations had been re-geared to use the crystals to fine-tune their generators. By 815 C.E., new long-range sensors were being produced which used only a fraction of the power previously required. Spherian crystals became in demand, but their availability was low and their price, when factoring in the cost of transport, was high. Negotiations were opened with other large Spherian settlements by rival Karbarran companies in an attempt to cash-in on the demand - suddenly, Spheris found itself dragged into the Universe. Payment to Spheris was first made in the coin of Information - knowledge of the star systems beyond the Spherians' own. Later, the emphasis changed from Knowledge to Food as Karbarrans began to pay by building fission powerplants. Spherian energy demands were being met for the foreseeable future.
This contact with the Karbarrans brought about a number of changes in Spherian societies. Fearful of the destruction of their way of life, Spherian 'lords' began to sign peace treaties amongst themselves. Large tracts of Spherian seas were declared 'open lanes' for traffic to go through unhindered. And, most importantly, Spherians became aware of the concept of reproduction - something which, for them, was simply seen as a by-product of conflict was suddenly presented to them in a new light. Spherian philosophers immediately began discussing this new concept, trying to understand its implications for Spherian society as a whole.
By 1110 C.E., the philosophical question was still not resolved, even though it had been raging for the last 300 years. This, however, did not seem to matter to the average Spherian-in-the-risia. Since Spheris' contact with Karbarra, wars had become almost non-existent and cities had been built. For the first time since Spherians had arisen from the risia seas, Spheris was enjoying prosperity and peace. Some of the populace began to outwardly imitate the physique of their Karbarran visitors, becoming large, crystal-like bears.
In 1117 C.E. came the news that a new race had contacted the Karbarrans. Soon enough, Tirolian ships began making their appearance in Spheris' skies. This new race, unlike the Karbarrans, seemed to be composed of two physically different types. While the concept of Male and Female had been introduced by contact with the Karbarrans, it was with the appearance of the Tirolians that it finally took hold. Almost overnight, Spherians began to mould themselves into different genders. 1118 C.E. was the first appearance of the 'Aesthetically Pleasing' Tirolian-like Spherian, according to the annals of the Spheris Polymorphic Society. The SPS was formed to ensure no Spherian deliberately impersonated another - it was, and still is, a legal requirement that body-sculpts be Regesstered with the SPS when a Spherian becomes adult, and there-after whenever it changes its shape to a new one. This Regesstration bears much similarity to the Regesstration of coats-of-arms in Earth's Medieval times.
With the sudden popularity of the concept of Genders, the debate as to the validity of conception began to take on a new fervour. While previously only held by some of Spheris' most distinguished philosophers, the debating started to take hold in the popular press. A crisis ocurred when the first Spherian mixed-consciousness child appeared in 1119 C.E..
On public television, two Spherians, gorged on risia, merged as if to fight. However, when they separated, a third Spherian had been produced - unlike previous spawning, this offspring was not a copy of a single parent's consciousness, but rather a fusion of those parts of their minds both parents had chosen to copy and 'donate' to their offspring. The child, to everyone's surprise, lived, but something else was discovered; whereas previously a Spherian offspring was capable of rational thought and movement within seconds of being spawned, this new child's mental processes were scrambled to the point of uselessness. Indeed, it took three months of 'parental care' before the child finally became able to interract with its environment.
Further binary-spawnings occured soon after the follow-up broadcast showing the child finally able to act independently from its parents, and unique in personality from both. Spherian Medical researchers found that, on average, it took 2.5 months for a child's mental processes to settle down into some sort of coherent order. During that time, the child was dependent upon its parents for energy and safety. The child, once mature, was a totally new personality, with few of the parental quirks dominant. Now faced with evidence of a planet-wide trend to binary-spawning, the Spherian philosophers threw up their hands in disgust and pointed out that in Philosophy, as in Democracy, 'normal' was decided by the masses.
It is interesting to note here that while single-gender binary-spawnings were common, the most successful occured when two differing genders were used in spawning an offspring. Spherians psychologists have theorised this is because since a Spherian's mode of thought determines its shape, different genders donate different thought-processes - and the most successful binary-spawning were between those with substantially different mental processes. Whatever the reason, binary-spawning was there to stay.
Life went on for Spherians without much further upheavals until 1365 C.E., when the Zentraedi came to invade. The invasion was brutal and merciless. Still smarting from the long siege on Garuda, the Zentraedi troops went in with engines on full and guns blazing. It was an unmitigated slaughter. Spherians who were not shot down simply shattered from the high levels of energy given off by both mecha and weapons. In less than a week, Spheris surrendered - by that time, almost half of its population had been destroyed.
In 1387 C.E., Spheris found itself under attack during an Invid lightning-raid. Invid troops appeared in orbit and harrassed the Zentraedi stationed there while ground-troops spread about the surface. It was later found that the attack on Spheris was on the direct behest of the Regess, and not the Regent. Indeed, had it been left to the Regent, Spheris would not have been attacked - devoid of Flowers of Life or major Protoculture reserves, the planet held no interest for him. The Regess, however, had other plans. Before being finally driven back, Invid transports began to ferry thousands of tons of the smaller risia crystals off-planet. With the help of Invid scientists, these crystals were shaped into a gigantic cloud of crystaline dust, capable of detecting Protoculture emissions across vast distances. Shaped magnetic fields were used to allow this cloud to be moved to anywhere the Regess desired. The Invid Sensor Nebulae was born.
Life under the rule of the Robotech Masters was hard. No resistance was offered by the Spherians; all remembered the terrible toll inflicted upon them by the Zentraedi. It is therefore not surprising that when the Invid arrived in 2016 C.E., they found the Spherians to be unresisting. With the Zentraedi planetary patrol despatched in a few hours, Spheris itself was taken without a shot being fired. Again, the attack had been spearheaded at the Regess' behest in order to augment the Sensor Nebulae and improve its range.
When the Regess left him, the Regent lost all interest in Spheris. And so it was that when the Sentinels arrived on Spheris in 2029 C.E. they found only a token occupation force. Nevertheless, because of the problems with using high-energy weapons on the planet, and the propensity of risia crystals to absorb and reflect energy beams, the battle for Spheris took over a month. Finally, the last of the Invid forces were destroyed and the planet liberated.
With the liberation of Spheris, Spherian scientists joined the REF on the development of a very important system - the EM Baffling System. Another system developed at the same time was a 'risia plating' project, to help defray and refract energy attacts upon large REF ships. Major technological and implementation problems, however, meant that the risia plating project never came to fruition and was abandoned for the more successful EM baffling system.
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Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.Content by Aubry Thonon, with Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen, and Rob Morgenstern