About the setting

[ The Starlight Union ]

The central element in Serenai is a universe-spanning society by the name of The Starlight Union. The Union was founded over 4000 millennia ago, and is made up of close to 800 different sentient species who have all reached a high point of enlightenment. This society has one base goal: to unlock all the secrets that the universe holds via means of science.

[ The Research Installations ]

To reach their goal, the Starlight Union has undertaken the monumental task of creating planets which adher to specific parameters to serve their purposes. These planets are specifically tailored for different types of experiments, and every aspect of the planet and it's inhabitants is administered and catalogued. Even the very rules of physics and nature are altered to form the perfect experimental ground.

Life on these worlds are classified in two cathegories: non-sentient and sentient. Whereas non-sentient life is often planted and evolved in tune with the rest of the world to form a perfectly natural ecosystem, sentient beings follow certain templates. Sentient beings are still taken from beings which are allowed to evolve with the rest of the world, their evolution is in many aspects steered, as genetic mutations are introduced manually. Traits which are detrimental to the Unions purposes are either phased out by slowly killing every indivdual which carries the trait, or outright removed from the genetic code when necessary.

[ Construction of the Installations ]

The construction of these planets is a very long and complex process. In some cases the Union uses existing worlds which orbit a star at a suitable distance, in other cases they use massive stations to manually create a stellar object by amassing lesser stellar objects, crushing the resulting mass into a solid form and then heating it's core to suitable temperatures.

After this, terraforming begins. In some cases, the geographical design is of lesser importance, while in some cases it is of decisive importance. Cases where the latter is true may take thousands of years to fully complete. After the terraforming stage is complete, the groundwork is laid down to introduce biological life. Exactly how this is done differs from case to case, and seldom one solution works for multiple cases. When the groundwork is laid down, the evolution of every single species and subspecies is closely monitored. In most cases, there are some preliminary plans made up regarding what types of life forms will serve the current experiment(s) best. In these cases evolution is steered by manually introducting genetic mutations which are prioritized and promoted.

Each and every step uses different personnel, as those who are in charge of terraforming do not have the necessary education for introduction of biological life, or development of the same, and so on. Construction of a standard planet (development of biological life included) can take several hundred millennia.

[ Shields & stations ]

All planets are surrounded by monumental shields (of which there are four different technological classes), larger than the planet itself. They rotate around the planet in tune with the closest star/sun, so that they never obscure the light on the world below. Attached to these shields are varying constructions and technological attachments. The functions of these titanic structures are manyfold:
- The function of the shields themselves are to disguise any stations that are put into orbit around the, as well as other stellar objects that might be more advantageous to hide. The shields also hide themselves, and instead display a "clean" image of the starry sky beyond them.
- Attached to the shields is also at least one space station, to which the personnel on the installation can travel from the surface of the planet, and further on to interstellar space stations via a teleportation network.
- The shields also have attachment to function as a communication array, which is in constant contact with the galactic network which supplies the planetside system with current and relevant data, coordinates and other information which keeps everything running smoothly.

Other than the shields all experimental planets have a number of minor stations in orbit, which serve as archives for samples of life forms, plants and other substances from the planetside system.

[ Other constructions ]

On some worlds it is necessary to install gravitational locks and nullifiers. These are massive installations which can lock a stellar object in relation to the planet, as well as negate the gravitational forces between the two objects. The use of these gravity-locked objects is very situational - sometimes they are used for larger stations planet-side, which is useful when experimental worlds are being terraformed, other times they are used as a sort of . In extreme cases they are used as protection against astronomical threats such as massive comets, meteorite showers, solar flares and similar.

[ The System ]

All these factors concerning these experimental planets combine to form a system - a routine which governs the world and how it works. This system encompasses each and every thing on the planet, be it alive or dead, material or immaterial. To properly describe how all this comes together, the model of a computer system will again serve as a metafor. But in using this metafor it becomes necessary to stress that in no way does this mean that our reality is some type of simulation or illusion - every single aspect is still part of the real world, it is merely goverened and changed by manipulating forces outside the physical reality.

The Keepers, the personnel on these installations could be compared to system administrators - they can manipulate the material world as they see fit, though each and every one of them have a certain area of responsibility, which is related to what the can manipulate.

Five levels of reality

The sentient inhabitants can be compared to system users - ordinary people who are a part of the system itself. On some worlds, the inhabitants can posess certain abilities, here called sorcery. These abilities can be compared to user permissions in a computer system - some users are permitted to change things that others do not. Each individual in the system is a combination of raw life force linked to a physical body, and this physical body can be compared to a user account where all memories and changes to the physical body are stored.

The other inhabitants - that is, animals, "supernatural creatures", "monsters", and all other similar things - are spread across a certain spectrum. Whereas some are similar to sentient species in that they are raw life force combined with a physical body, others are merely raw life force which have become a natural part of the system, and others still have their origin outside the system (this doesn't mean that they aren't affected by the system itself though).

Because the system can indeed fail, and that is when things can become quite disturbing. As the Starlight Union does indeed rewrite reality, imperfections can arise. These imperfections in the system can be quite benign; such as small shifts in temperature or a subtle chirping of birds in peculiar places; to the remarkably odd, such as all colors in an area becoming inverted or ; or the quite horrific, such as or sudden loss of memory simply by being in the wrong place or sudden and drastic warping of genetic makeup. These events can be compared to bugs in computer systems - and not only places can become flawed, but individuals as well...

[ Other Factions ]

The Starlight Union is indeed a large organization - the largest in the universe in fact. This does not mean that every sentient species in existence is a part of it - far from it. There are those that directly oppose the Union, as well as those who simply choose to remain outside it, either because they choose to, or don't meet the Union's criteria.

The Corosian Coalition is the largest of the Union's opponents. TCC is a gathering of different species which find the Union's doing to be simply immoral. Via political means they try to prevent the Union from being able to build new worlds, but since there is no centralized government for the universe (such a task being more or less impossible as planetary governments barely last a century before collapsing) this method varies quite a lot in effectiveness.

This leads us to The Great Diplomatic Assembly, which is the closest thing to a universal governing body that exists. It's mission, however, is not to govern, but to act as a mediator between systems and species whenever needed. They are in essence a neutral faction, though its primary tenent is to preserve the sanctity of life wherever it exists.

The Alliance of Free Species is a bit of an oddity, as it is an organization exclusively for species which have come to exist because of the Union's experiments, but in the process have broken free. They too oppose the Union's work, but instead of working via political means, they choose a more direct approach. They monitor the Union's installations in secret, and when they notice atrocities taking place, they can assault the installation and capture the personnel. This can, however can do more harm than good, as the installations are far from simple things, and even small changes can have disasterous consequences.

But though the universe is filled to the brim with civilizations and organizations, there are still large areas of space still unexplored and hitherto unknown by everyone. Everyone but the Heavenly Swimmers.

[ The Galactic Rupture ]

With all these pieces of information in place, it's time to get to the heart of the matter. There existed a world in the galaxy we ourselves call the Milky Way, which went by the name of Ondori'ath. It was a world going trough the final steps of alteration before biological life was introduced to the planet. But somewhere, something went horribly wrong. As the personnel activated the last alterations, a great rumbling was heard, followed by the sound of all things being ripped to shreds and a blinding light. The following second, Ondori'ath had seized to exist.

A great wave of light blasted out across the galaxy, washing it in a surreal rainbow of colors. All across the galaxy, personnel on different Laboratory Worlds noticed malfunctions in their equipment and felt that something had shook reality to its very foundation. Little did they know that the blast had displaced almost the entire galaxy in both space and time.

What they did realize, however, was that none of their communication- or transportation technology longer worked. Their connection to the galactic system had been severed, and no signals from outside could be picked up. They were effectively stranded on each of their worlds, further away from home than they could ever realize.

This is where our story truly begins, the moment these poor beings understand that they are adrift in a sea of stars with no way home. This story is about them, and all the little inhabitants of the worlds that serve a purpose far beyond their comprehension.

This is the story of Serenai.