An Introduction to Stariionae
by John R. Plunkett
* * * * * Continuity Alert * * * * *
The information listed in this document may be at variance with what has been published in various stories. In such cases this document supersedes all other sources; in time I'll review the stories and update them as required. Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns; I don't at all rule out the possibility that I've made mistakes or overlooked things. Aside from that, discussion is how I discover inconsistencies and points that aren't well thought out. Plus, I'm always open to new ideas.
The purpose of this document is to acquaint the reader with what is known of Species 23330714, colloquially known as the Stariionae. The material presented herein is a general overview, and not by any means all-inclusive.
- Adult Dimensions
Length: 72.00 meters (nose to tail) Span: 44.50 meters (wingtip to wingtip) Height: 13.75 meters (keel to rudder tip) Mass: 420 tons
- Outward Appearance
In planform view (from above, looking down, or below, looking up), the basic shape of a Stariionae's fuselage is an oval, highly elongated along the nose - tail axis. Both front and back are bluntly rounded; the right and left halves are symmetrical, mirror images of one another. Seen from the side the top half of the fuselage forms a stretched teardrop shape, rising sharply on the leading edge and tapering down on the trailing edge. The bottom is also curved but very shallowly in comparison to the top; as a result the tips of the nose and tail are well below the fuselage centerline. Also, while the right and left lines meet in a uniform curve, the top and bottom lines meet at a sharp angle. The result of all this is a "shovel nose," something like that of a whale shark, but with a more pronounced curve.
All of a Stariionae's fins are of one of two classes: diamond or swept. Both types of fins have swept back trailing edges; in diamond fins the trailing edges sweep forward, opposite to the leading edge, while in swept fins the trailing edge sweeps aft, in the same direction as the leading edge.
All fins are equipped with winglets, Diamond fins have swept back leading edges and forward swept trailing edges. Thus, a pair of fins together, in planform view, creates a diamond shape. Swept fins also have swept back leading edges and also swept back trailing edges. squared tips, but the trailing edges are also swept back.
Seen from ahead or astern, the top and bottom curves of the fuselage reverse as they come together, creating a "pinch" on either side (like the outline of a flying saucer). These pinches form strakes on either side of the fuselage. The strakes are diamond fins; the leading edges are highly swept, with their roots high up on the nose. The trailing edges are, by contrast, very shallowly swept. The strakes are very short, from base to tip, but very long in chord (the distance from leading edge to trailing edge). The strakes square off the sides of the fuselage, creating an attachment point for the main wings.
The canards are a pair of fins mounted on the nose. They partially overlap the strakes but are attached above the strakes and thus are not contiguous with them. The canards are diamond fins; their leading edges are more shallowly swept than those of the strakes while the trailing edges are about the same, and the chord of the tip is very short. Thus the canards are proportionally much longer from base to tip.
The canards are not attached for the entire length of their root. There's a "cut" at the trailing edge, which allows the trailing edge of the fin to flex up and down. There's no hinge, however; the "control surface" is contiguous with the rest of the fin. The entire fin flexes to provide aerodynamic control.
The main wings are swept fins which attach to the tips of the strakes.
These pinches form strakes that support the main wing roots and also form the tailplane, to which the tail fins are attached. The leading edge of each strake is sharply swept, joining the side of the fuselage fairly close to the nose. The tips of the strakes are squared, forming the attachment point for the main wing roots. Aft of the main wings the strakes pinch in sharply, then continue in a straight line aft to a point a ways beyond the rear end of the fuselage. There they come together, forming a flat tailplane. The trailing edge of the tailplane is smoothly curved, with a notch in the center reminiscent of the center section of a dolphin's fluke.
The canards are a pair of fins mounted on either side of the nose. They overlap the strakes but are mounted above them, and are thus not part of them. The leading edge of each canard is swept back; the trailing edges sweep forward at a much shallower angle. Taken together, in planform view they form a delta shape. (Some observers have compared them to the canards of the XB-70.) The tips are smoothly curved on the leading edge, then form an aft-facing point on the trailing edge, with a small notch between the point and the trailing edge of the fin. The points expand into a pair of sharply swept winglets that stick out past the trailing edge of the fin; both top and bottom winglets angle sharply outboard, forming a horizontal Y shape when viewed from ahead or astern. At the root of each canard, the fins are attached to the fuselage only for the first three quarters of their length; the remaining quarter is free. This allows the trailing edge of the fin to flex up and down.
The main wings are in the same basic pattern as the canards, with the exception that the trailing edges are also aft swept, just like the leading edges. They're proportionally longer and narrower of chord (distance from leading to trailing edge) but have the same tip design, with larger and more fully developed winglets. The trailing edge roots are detached for about one eight of their length. Also, the main wings have a very steep anhedral (from root to tip, the wings angle downward).
The dorsal fin is mounted on the top of the fuselage, on the centerline, a bit aft of the widest point. Its design is like the canards: the leading edge sweeps aft, the trailing edge sweeps forward. It's taller and narrower of chord than the canards; it reminds some viewers of the dorsal fin of a shark. The dorsal fin has winglets but is attached for the entire length of its root.
Immediately behind the main wings are a pair of fins mounted the right and left edges of the tailplane, on the top. These fins are like the main wings; their trailing edges sweep the same direction as the leading edges, which is aft. Their proportions are similar to those of the dorsal fin. The trailing edges are disconnected at the roots for approximately a third of their length. Immediately behind these fins are another pair, with similar proportions, also mounted on the edges of the tailplane but on the bottom. Both pairs of fins angle sharply outward; as a result, when viewed from ahead or astern, they look more like an X tail split in half than a cruciform tail with two rudders.
Stariionae have a total of six limbs, all of which are on the underside of the fuselage. Each limb has three joints (analagouns to the shoulder, embow, and wrist of a humanoid arm) and a three-digited hand (two fingers and an opposable thumb). When retracted the limbs fit into channels on the underside of the body; the channels are covered by flaps (analogous to landing gear doors on aircraft). Structurally, the flaps are most similar to the plates which comprise a lobster's tail. ******* The first pair, from front to back, are the manipulator limbs. These limbs are long and spindly, with three-digited hands (two fingers, one thumb). In structure they are superficially similar to humanoid arms, with a shoulder, elbow, and wrist joint, but they are enclosed in a chitinous shell made from the same material as the outer hull. The hands are long and skinny, what some might call skeletal. The shoulder joints are located on the inboard edges of the strakes, slightly behind the leading edge of the main wing root. When extended the shoulder joint swings out, projecting it beyond the surface of the hull, allowing for greater freedom of movement. when retracted, the limbs lay in channels along the undersides of the strakes. In this position the elbow joint is a bit aft of the main wing root. The forearm lays outboard of the upper arm; the hand tucks into the leading edge of the strake. A humanoid can visualize this arrangement by raising hir hands, with the palms facing forward, hir elbows tucked tight against hir sides, and hir hands as close as possible to hir shoulders. The edges of the channels pinch shut when the limbs are retracted, smoothing them over and locking the limbs in place. Even the hands and fingers are locked this way. The undersides of the forearms are fared into the strakes with retracted, so the hull is clean, but the hands are not. To counteract this, there's a small air ramp just ahead of the fingertips.
The next pair are the forward strength limbs. These are much shorter and thicker than the manipulators, though otherwise identical, including the hand. The shoulders attach directly to the belly, immediately inboard of the channels containing the manipulators and just ahead of the fuselage center of gravity. They stow the same way as the manipulators, with the palm down and the elbow pointing aft, but the hands are between the shoulders instead of outside them.
The final pair are the aft strength limbs. These are similar in structure to the forward strength limbs, but the median joint points forward, like a knee, instead of aft, like an elbow. The base joints mount slightly aft of the fuselage center of gravity and between the forward strength limbs. Unlike all the others, these limbs stow with the palms upward. These limbs are sometimes called legs, because of their design, but they're the same length as the forward strength limbs and the terminal appendages are clearly hands, not feet. The backs of the hands are fared on these limbs.
A way to visualize the stowing of the strength limbs is to imagine a humanoid, on hir face, with hir knees drawn up under hir body and hir arms tucked in tight against hir sides.
- General Points
Overall, the Stariionae hull has smooth, organic lines that some observers describe a sexy, or even feminine. It's important to note that males have exactly the same basic appearance as females; telling them apart is actually very difficult for the inexperienced observer.
Despite their superficial similarity to hypersonic aircraft, Stariionae have no intakes, exhausts, cockpits, viewports, or hatches. The hull is completely unbroken, as if formed from a single piece.
Stariionae skin has an opalescent radiance that many compare to mother of pearl. Healthy skin glows warmly with shimmering, rainbow patterns that shift constantly. Unhealthy skin turns grayish and loses its luster. Scars appear as yellowish intrusions that darken with severity to muddy brown or almost black. The color patterns in an individual's skin are known to reflect emotional states and physical well being, but interpreting it is difficult; even some of those who've worked with Stariionae for a long time never get it, while others pick it up very quickly.
The position and structure of the strength limbs in particular makes it easy to think of them as landing gear, but Stariionae almost never use them that way. When they wish to land they set down on their bellies, with the limbs retracted. Nor do they walk; their skeletons really aren't designed for it. (At anything more than a slow, plodding walk, the nose, tail, and wings jounce up and down quite dramatically.) Even for very short movements- a body length or two- they lift off and fly, then set down. For a Stariionae, walking is like a humanoid crawling on hands and knees: possible, but inefficient, uncomfortable, and very unnatural.
Strength limbs are mainly used for lifting and carrying or to anchor the individual in place. Nevertheless, Stariionae are fully ambidextrous; manipulator limbs are typically more agile than strength limbs but all of them are capable of fine manipulation. An individual could, for instance, write with any hand, on either side, or use a keyboard with any pair of limbs.
- Internal Structure
Despite their appearance, Stariionae are endoskeletal creatures. The nose cone has a solid core, analogous to a skull, which holds the brain. A segmented spar running aft along the belly connects the nose to the tail. The joints allow the fuselage to flex and twist. A series of ribs attached to the spar give the fuselage its shape. The spars supporting the main wings are cantilevered, like an inverted gull wing that's enclosed within the fuselage, so the supports don't pass through the center of the body cavity. The strakes and tailplane are formed by spars which are ribs that stick straight out instead of curving back together. Each set of limbs is anchored to a heavy crossbar centered around the spine; the muscles anchor to a flare of bone similar to the lilium of a humanoid pelvis. They angle outward so as to obstruct the body cavity as little as possible; the pair for the manipulator limbs angle aft, as do those for the aft strength limbs. Those for the forward strength limbs angle forward.
The root of the dorsal fin is anchored along its entire length but all the other fins- including the canards- have a gap at the trailing edge. These gaps allow the trailing edge to flex up and down; this is how the Stariionae achieves flight control without having separate control surfaces. On the tail surfaces the gap amounts to half the root length, allowing for very high deflections. On the canards and main wings the gap is much smaller: a quarter or less of the root length. Internally, each fin is supported by a singe main spar, with several secondaries that run forward and aft. The arrangement is described by some observers as being halfway between a fish fin and a bat wing; joints in the main spars allow the fins to "flap" and also twist; flexing joints in the secondary spars is what allows the trailing edges to deflect.
Primary loads are carried by the skeleton but the skin is also a structural component. Immediately below the skin is a layer of varying depth that's divided up into cells, like a honeycomb. The cells stiffen the skin and transfer loads from it to the skeletal members. The empty volume within the honeycomb is used to store a substance analogous to organic fat; it's the fuel upon which the Stariionae runs. This layer contains a great many blood vessels; not only to carry nutrients but also to aid in thermal regulation. The fins, and the whole skin, is designed to radiate or absorb heat as necessary in order to maintain a suitable body temperature.
The honeycomb layer also helps contain leaks if the hull is breached. The "fat" is designed to harden upon exposure to vacuum; the honeycomb itself serves the same purpose as a bandage, giving the material a structure to anchor to as it hardens. Stariionae can survive, and recover from, a proportional degree of trauma that would kill or permanently cripple and organic creature.
Stariionae have two hearts: one at the front of the fuselage and one at the rear. It's possible for an individual to survive with only one in operation. They are not mechanical, like organic hearts; each one is a collection of tubes lined with tiny tractor beam mounts that are designed to affect only blood. Nevertheless, output pressure fluctuates cyclically, so Stariionae do have a pulse, though it's much less distinct than in organics. When a Stariionae is very relaxed, it's sometimes possible to feel the pulse and certain points on the hull. Normally, though, the hull is much too stiff for the vibrations to be felt.
The digestive system is structurally very simple: a long, narrow pouch, called a feeding pouch, with a pair of feeding transporters on either side of it. The feeding transporters only dematerialize desirable compounds, leaving the rest behind. There's no force field shielding the matter stream, which causes the material left behind to ionize. The result, according to some, is like really sloppy arc welding: the docking area (a volume inside which the transporter is dematerializing matter) is constantly throwing off clouds of plasma and spatters of liquefied material. This appears wasteful but it would actually consume more energy to control it, and it has the effect of helping to break apart the foodstuff. The feeding transporters have a very short range; generally a bit less than the individual's own body length. Thus, they typically end up taking large objects, like asteroids, and breaking them apart to get at the nutrients contained within. An alternative to that is atmospheric scooping; the individual will dip into the atmosphere of a gas giant, using force fields to collect and compress the gas into a stream the feeding transporters can process. The individual doing the scooping will leave a contrail of ionized particles that's quite dramatic. Feeding this way is akin to grazing: it takes a lot of time and effort to get a full meal.
Feeding transporters are exceedingly capable in terms of how they can filter and process material. They can also work in reverse, and the individual has a great deal of conscious control over them as well. A Stariionae can, for example, use his or her feeding transporters to extract a particular ore from an asteroid, and even refine it, then regurgitate a lump of the processed material.
In particularly aged individuals, the feeding transporters may decrease in efficiency or even stop working altogether. Such individuals may be kept alive by having others beam food into their feeding pouches.
Stariionae do not breathe, so they have no structures analogous to lungs. Most of their vital organs are concerned with the manufacture and support of the nanites which are the Stariionae's equivalent of cells. As with organic cells there are thousands of different nanites, all of which work together in fantastically complex interactions. These organs are collectively known as the factory organs; their precise operation is still not clearly understood.
It can be argued that Stariionae are not living creatures but rather fantastically complex robots. They are indeed not organic; their bodies are composed of synthetic composites, assembled and maintained by nano-machines. Many of these nanites are powered by nuclear fission, as opposed to chemical processes. Muscles are composed of many small fibers, just like organic ones. Individual muscle fibers are powered by nuclear fusion; modified muscle tissues power "high energy" systems such as weapons, shields, sensors, and FTL drive.
Stariionae blood and flesh is exceedingly toxic to organics, being not only intensely radioactive but also chemically poisonous. A bleeding Stariionae is a serious danger to organics, on the scale of a fission reactor containment failure, even if the wound is quite minor to the Stariionae. Even a fresh scab will emit dangerous amounts of radiation. A healthy Stariionae, however, is perfectly safe; the skin completely contains both the radiation and the toxins.
The bodily waste produced by Stariionae is not, generally speaking, a problem for organics. First of all, the Stariionae biosystem is extremely efficient, so most of what it eliminates is inert. Secondly, it's usually not eliminated in the atmosphere; it's dumped in space and used as reaction mass. A Stariionae who remained confined to an atmosphere would release materials into it, but the most common waste material is helium, which is harmless. The second most common waste product is lead, which not harmless, especially since it's released in ionized form, where it forms toxic salts. Still, the quantity of lead produced by a single Stariionae is very small, particularly compared to- for example- the amount of lead released by an internal combustion engine burning leaded gasoline.
The distinction between fission and fusion powered life processes is sometimes difficult to understand because there's no clear analogue in organic life.
For proper health, Stariionae consume primarily a range of complex hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and transuranics. Hydrocarbons are used for bodily fluids, the manufacture of bodily tissues, along with the heavy metals, and as a source of hydrogen fuel for fusion powered life processes. Transuranics provide fuel for fission powered life processes. In terms of the percentage of each category in a healthy diet, hydrocarbons are far and away the largest. Heavy hydrocarbons are more desirable than light ones; they provide more nourishment for less work.Heavy metals represent a fairly small portion, and the transuranic portion is positively minuscule. That said, Stariionae appear to really like the taste of certain metals and will eat them whenever possible. An excess of metals in the diet leads to a buildup in the tissues, which encourages unhealthy weight gain. Excess metals are also eliminated as reaction mass, and frequently in toxic forms.
Their main support is a spar running the length of the body, from nose to tail, along the top of the fuselage. The spar is jointed where the nose and tailcone join the fuselage, allowing those members to both swing and twist. In the fuselage are no less than five joints, allowing the main body a quite amazing degree of movement. The main wings are supported by five spars, running from root to tip, articulated to the spine and also divided by five joints each. The wings can flex up and down, twist, and change their camber. The tail fins are supported by a similar arrangement but with fewer joints. For flight control, the entire tailcone swings and the fins change their camber.
The nose cone is almost entirely solid and contains the "skull." Inside the fuselage, a series of ribs support all the muscles which move the various joints. A fork and scapula arrangement, somewhat similar to a humanoid shoulder, anchors the limbs. In the case of the strength limbs, the fork and scapula are mounted vertically; for the manipulator limbs they run horizontally. The lower ends of the fuselage ribs are joined by something similar to a bird's keel bone: as in birds it's not actually bone but a joint designed to allow a certain amount of flexion.
All the extra spaces within a Stariionae's body are filled with a spongy material stiffened by a honeycomb structure. This material can be considered analogous to fat; it stores fuel and whatever else is needed by the Stariionae's biological processes. It also acts as an intermediate structural layer, helping the skin to hold its shape. In case of a hull breach the material hardens by forming a network of strong, sticky fibers. The honeycomb provides support for the fibers so holes can be sealed quickly and effectively.
Because of their unique biology Stariionae don't have that many internal organs as compared to Terrestrial animals. They don't breathe, so they don't have lungs. Their digestive tract is limited to a series of pouches connected by tubes, analogous to the stomach and small intestine. Except for the stomachs these organs take up very little room; the feeding transporters bring material on board already in form for optimal absorption, so very little subsequent processing is required. There are several organs believed to be analogous to the liver, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys, but more concerned with controlling blood chemistry than aiding digestion. The operation of these organs is not clearly understood. Collectively they're referred to as the factory organs, since they manufacture and reprocess the body's nanites.
Control in flight is achieved by flexing the fins and even the entire fuselage, which can bend a lot more than one might think, and by energizing or suppressing the boundary layer (the airflow immediately adjacent to the skin). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifting_body http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planform http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strake http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winglet
- Circulatory System
Stariionae have two hearts, one just behind the nose cone and a second just ahead of the tail cone. Females have a third in the center, which supplies the reproductive organs. (In males there is a homologous structure which is part of the warhead launcher system.) These hearts are not mechanical pumps but instead use arrays of super-gravity tractors to draw fluid through a venturi. Nevertheless, output pressure is cyclic; in males the front and rear hearts operate in opposite phases. Females have a three-phase beat; in 75% of individuals the pattern is front - middle - rear. In 20% of individuals the pattern is rear - middle - front, with the last 5% equally split between middle - front - rear and middle - rear - front. In the womb and during infancy the female's cycle pattern will change several times before settling down to the pattern the individual will retain through her adult life. When a female reaches the equivalent of menopause, when the reproductive system shuts down, the center heart stops working. The remaining hearts will gradually shift to a two beat pattern, just like a male's. The cyclic frequency at which the hearts operate is analogous to pulse rate in an organic creature.
The hearts circulate fluid throughout the body via a network of ducts laid out just like blood vessels in an organic creature. The fluid serves the same purpose as blood: fuel, building materials, and repair nanites are carried to where they need to be and wastes taken away. Blood is not used for thermal regulation; that's handled by the shield system.
nanites, fuel, and building materials throughout the body and the cyclic frequency is analogous to the pulse rate in
Of particular note are the Stariionae's hearts. Males have two, one just behind the nose cone and another just ahead of the tail cone. Females have three: the same two as the males and a third in the center, which supplies the reproductive organs. (The reproductive system itself will be discussed later.) The hearts are not mechanical pumps but focused reaction thrusters, employing the same principle as the lift-and-drive system, described below.
Muscle Almost all these nanites are powered by radioactive decay; as such Stariionae blood and flesh is intensely toxic to organic creatures. Stariionae muscles are powered by nuclear fusion, which happens on a molecular level inside individual "cells." Depleted fission and fusion products, as well as other biochemical waste, is used as reaction mass. If Stariionae are robots then they are true Von Neumann machines, self-sustaining and self-reproducing.
Since they don't have engines, Stariionae fly using a system something like current Federation contra-gravity lift-and-drive. Basically, the system generates a focused super-gravity beam capable of attracting or repelling nearby objects. But where Federation systems rely on fixed arrays with a limited range of focus, every muscle cell in a Stariionae's body is capable of generating an individual beam, in any direction. As such, a Stariionae can develop full thrust in any attitude, as well as dividing total thrust into any number of beams which may focus completely independently of each other.
A Stariionae can fly in any of three modes. Like an ordinary air car, thrusting against the ground to achieve lift and motion. Like a stratojet, thrusting against the air. Or as a true space craft, where matter is beamed out by the feeding transporters and thrust against. (Note: the excitation of matter as a result of the transport and thrusting is what causes the Stariionae to glow brightly while engaged in high-G maneuvers in vacuum.)
A Stariionae may control its attitude with thrust but it also has an angular reaction system consisting of spherical gyros, suspended and spun by super-gravity beams. In keeping with the basic design philosophy these gyros are very small and there are thousands of them scattered throughout the body.
In aerodynamic flight, Stariionae project specialized force fields from their skin. These fields prevent airflow from touching the skin, thus reducing parasite drag. They also control boundary layer turbulence, which further reduces drag and also enhances the authority of the control surfaces. Thus a broad range of mechanical motion in the fins is not needed to achieve high maneuverability.
Just like Federation star ships, Stariionae are equipped with shields and zero inertia fields. Both are generated by a specialized form of muscle tissue, with what amounts to billions of individual emitters. Furthermore, the shields are embedded in the hull rather than projecting beyond it. For both these reasons Stariionae shields are markedly more effective than Federation designs. Multiple emitters eliminate "windows" of vulnerability to energy of a particular modulation and type. Segments on the verge of burn-through can transfer energy to adjacent, unloaded segments or the hull itself, which acts as an enormous heat sink.
The Stariionae's main offensive weapon is often called a power beam, though strictly speaking it should be called a force beam. Instead of projecting highly charged particles or waves at a target, after the fashion of a plasma cannon or laser, it projects a long, thin, very tightly focused force field. This field is designed to "diffract" into multiple vectors upon striking a target; this "spreading" effect creates a shockwave in the target which inflicts the actual damage. The beam is, up to a point, tunable for varying densities of targets.
The beams are generated by fan shaped arrays of emitters in the front part of the fuselage, located outside the ribs and the muscles anchored to them. There are four such arrays, each of which discharges through a single emitter point on the outer hull. These points are just aft of where the nose cone joins the fuselage, evenly spaced in a ring around it. The skin over these points is black instead of the normal mother of pearl and bulges outward in smoothly fared bumps. Each emitter can fire a beam in any direction not masked by the hull. Because of their position on the forward curve of the fuselage all four emitters can fire directly forward but there's an approximately cone shaped "dead zone" directly aft. Between those extremes, at least two mounts can fire into any given hemisphere.
Male Stariionae have missiles, which are grown and stored inside the body and deployed by transporter. Transport causes a slug of matter inside the projectile to become anti-matter; thrust is produced as it combines with normal matter in the missile body. Missiles do not have warheads; they inflict damage through a combination of high relative velocity and the release of whatever anti-matter remains on board. A missile that doesn't hit anything will literally burn itself out, degenerating into a spray of highly charged particles.
Missiles contain sophisticated guidance systems; they may be used in "fire-and-forget" mode or under remote guidance. A given male can only guide his own missiles, but certain females have the ability to guide missiles launched by various males.
Each of the Stariionae's limbs has a powerful tractor/pressor mount built into the palm. These can be used as weapons in "rattler" mode: by switching very rapidly between attraction and repulsion. Synching this frequency to a material's resonant frequency makes it possible to saw through even extremely refractory objects; more delicate materials will literally explode.
The fingertips of a Stariionae's strength limbs are equipped with a specialized form of rattler that acts as a claw, lengthening and sharpening the fingertip. In some ways these "force claws" are more effective than the rattlers, as a result of being considerably more tightly focused, but their range is extremely limited and they only cut; they don't have the shattering effect of the rattlers.
The Stariionae's prime sensor is called a state detector, to avoid confusion with the mass detector, whose operation is superficially similar but employs different fundamental principles. Like a mass detector, the data collected by a state detector is not skewed by relativistic distortions, and events in hyper-space are visible. How the state detector works is not clearly understood; functionally it's capable of penetrating any known matter and registering the presence of electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields. Dense materials are described by Stariionae as being "dark," while empty space is "light," but a barrier of dense matter does not impede the state detector's ability to discriminate less dense material beyond the barrier. Shields, even the ultra-high energy type used to shield lightweight warp reactor cores, only slightly degrade the state detector's resolving power. Zero inertia fields, however, reduce it considerably: as field strength increases detail within it gradually fades, until it appears to be a single object of uniform density, structure, and composition. The presence of the field can't be hidden, but it's contents can.
Stariionae skin is capable of detecting all along the electromagnetic spectrum. They can discern the intensity and bearing of an EM source with a high degree of accuracy but do not resolve the data into images. It could be said that they "feel" radiation rather than "see" it.
Tactile sensation is extremely well developed in Stariionae, stemming from the need to closely monitor airflow over their bodies.
Stariionae have no sense of hearing per se, though their high tactile sensitivity allows them to discern pressure waves. The vocalizations of organic creatures are, for the most part, much too soft for them to detect.
This is the biggest enigma by far. What is known is far less than what isn't. It appears that Stariionae transform themselves into a form of matter which can exist stably in hyper-space; they do not enclose themselves in a bubble of normal space after the fashion of Federation spacewarp drive. In fact, a Stariionae can enter or leave a star ship's warp bubble just like entering or leaving normal space. Doing so induces a tremendous imbalance in the warp field; most warp drives will go into emergency shutdown and most likely sustain grievous damage to their energizer systems. This disruption can be minimized if the Stariionae slows the transition, giving the drive time to react.
The Stariionae system requires comparatively little energy. Stariionae do not need antimatter-fueled warp reactors to supply their power needs; the lower energy fusion reaction is sufficient. Also, they can activate their drive while running their other systems at full power, where a Federation star ship has to shut almost everything else down while charging its warp field.
In terms of apparent velocity, Stariionae drives are only about a third as fast as Federation designs. A Stariionae could easily keep up with bulk freight hauler; a reasonably modern liner would quickly pull ahead and any recent generation military vessel would leave a Stariionae in the dust. On the other hand, A Stariionae can refuel from readily available hydrogen, so its effective operating range is vastly larger than that of a Federation vessel, which is constrained by the availability of anti-matter manufactories.
The Stariionae word for the state they enter when translating into hyper-space has been rendered into English as "shadow space." This is an extremely rough approximation, chosen by consensus as the best of several alternatives offered by the SwiftSure Translator. (SEE Language, below, for further details.)
The Stariionae word for inserting into hyper-space or normal space is rendered into English as "side-stepping."
Stariionae speak to one another using a system which seems to be closely related to the state detector. Intelligence may be passed instantaneously over very long distances: much longer than is possible with hyper-wave. As with the state detector, communication signals are not affected by space, matter, or energy located between endpoints. As with hyper-wave, the communication must be directed to a particular location; it can't be broadcast.
It's possible for one Stariionae to eavesdrop on another by opening a channel but not sending. If the target is observant, though, he or she will notice the intruding channel and may take steps. It's also possible for a Stariionae in shadow-space to detect that other Stariionae are speaking, though not to detect what's being said, even without knowing where the speakers are located. The volume in which this detection is possible is a solid ellipse whose major axis is defined by the endpoints of the transmission. Because of this, even though it's possible for them to communicate over very long distances, they generally confine themselves to speaking only over ranges measured in light-minutes, or light-hours if the environment is safe enough for it. This practice is to avoid alerting the Thraxid (SEE "The Enemy," below).
Translating Starrionae language has proven extremely difficult. It's multi-threaded nature means that there are always many different intrepretations of any particular symbol set. Furthermore, the vast majority of Stariionale language artifacts are based on concepts that organic minds are simply incapable of percieving or grasping. In short, the universe Stariionae see, and how they see it, is completely different from the one organic creatures see.
Stariionae brains are capable of processing data a hundred times faster than organic ones, and this increased capability is reflected in their language. Not only is the raw data rate much higher, but Stariionae speech is multi-dimensional: where most vocal communication is presented in serial fashion, Starrionae speech is multi-threaded. (Like music as compared to ordinary speech, but it isn't clear how accurate that analogy is.) are very facile with language and have no trouble learning "softie" languages, even though, so far, no non-Stariionae has yet made any sense of the Stariionae language.
* Manipulator Limb Shoulder Positioning *
* Anterior Strength Limb Median Joint Direction *
* Molebind Finger Pads *
* Fairing of Limb Channels *
* Arrangement of Power Beam Mounts *
To Be Continued