by Max Barry

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Behind the Scenes...

Nuts and Bolts: Maintenance
The following is a distinctly not-comprehensive list of Nation Maintenance Threads on the NationStates forums. These are threads that are intended to catalog various events that might not be appropriate for a multi-author role-play or that might benefit from the short form but all are intended to focus on building and displaying the character (and characters) of a NationState. All of these threads and their respective nations are in some way connected to Sunset. For more information on either participating or mentioning events referenced, see the individual thread or contact the author directly.

A Who's Who
The following are individuals who are considered important both in terms of their long-term development and to the nation and its character. They may be listed as individuals or as a commonly encountered group but note the following carefully; Some of the information listed in these mini-biographies is public knowledge, some of it is easily attainable through routine intelligence gathering, and some of it is outright fabrications and lies. Consider that fair warning before any of it is acted on!

Erika Silaco

Character: Secretary-General Erika Silaco
Species: Human
Age: 51
Appearance: An attractive human female with sandy blond hair with grey eyes from typical Caucasian/European stock. She is fit, though not muscular, and is slightly taller than average. She appears to be in her late 20's or early 30's. In person she is cheerful and welcoming with a pleasant and disarming manner.
Biography: Erika has been the Secretary-General of Sunset since 2140. She has an adopted daughter, Katryna, and she is married to Ambassador Demi Love. She holds a Doctorate in Robotics from NeoVanc University on Ares, and she is the President and whole owner of Silaco Electronics. She enjoys ice skating, classic cars, surfing, and sailing.

Like almost all of the previous Presidents and presumably future Secretary-Generals, Erika was groomed for the role by the previous office-holder, President Jon Thorgardson - 2131-2140 - who chose her based on her business acumen as CEO of the then-upstart Silaco Electronics. During the run-up to his retirement she was placed in the position of Vice President, a nominated role that has since been eliminated in favor of the List. While in this position she was largely responsible for the expansion of Triumvirate colonies into the Ares System as well as the establishment of several smaller colony worlds for the Republic, notably Tsubasa and Casablanca. During this time she also helped establish the reporting division that would become known as Special Projects and is now headed by her daughter, Katryna Silaco.

Because the Secretary-General is responsible for the carrot and stick of diplomacy and military, most of her personal emphasis has been on a slow and steady colonization and expansion effort along with both the diplomatic needs that accompany and with the ongoing expansion of the Defense Force. While she focuses much of her time on the Republic and her Office, she still has time to play engineer and under her stewardship Silaco Electronics is thriving. Even with both jobs, she has still found time for a family life and after nearly a decade of the single life, she began dating Ambassador Demi Love and the two were married in '170. More recently she added another family member - Alex - who serves as a butler and personal adjutant. In '172 Demi and Erika had a son, Nathyn, and in '174 their daughter Mikayla was born, followed by their third child, Brynn, in '177.

Character: Ambassador Demi Love
Species: Human
Age: 40
Appearance: An attractive human female of clear Latin American heritage with long black-brown hair and wide brown eyes. While fit, she isn't muscular and has a bit of an hourglass figure and is of average height. Generally she looks and dresses as though she was in her mid-30's with a taste for the flirty. Her personality is generally inquisitive and interested, though she likes to use personal experiences to relate to others.
Biography: Born on Mars, Demi went through the public school system before discovering she had a taste for languages and going to the University of New Vancouver to earn a Degree in Linguistics and Languages. After graduation, she entered the diplomatic service where she was posted to the Martian Duma as a junior attache. Working her way up through the ranks, she became the Republic's representative to that body when the previous office holder retired. In 2168 she was selected to be an Ambassador at Large.
Several months after her promotion, she began dating Secretary-General Silaco and since then the two have been first romantically linked and now married despite her frequent deployments on various assignments. Demi still enjoys learning new languages, as well as taking in various aspects of foreign cultures such as movies, plays, and similar in their native language. She also enjoys camping, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits.

Characters: The Admiralty; Grand Admirals Alyndra Erriki, Jon Yikorusha, G'OgraPhi, and David Edge
Species: Human, Human, ArAreBee, Human

    Age and Appearance: 69, Cybernetically Enhanced Human, Nordic Ethnic Origins
    Biography: Recently promoted to the rank after the death of her predecessor, Grand Admiral Alyndra Erriki is a by-the-books and by-the-numbers career officer with an impressive track record of capable and insightful management who is seen as the best choice to lead the Fleet through the upcoming expansion cycle.

    Age and Appearance: 66, Cybernetically Enhanced Human, East Asian Ethnic Origins
    Biography: Grand Admiral Jon Yikorusha leads the Marine Command with an almost stereotypical Samurai philosophy. He is ethnically Vietnamese but who keeps track of these things, right?

    Age and Appearance: 124, Male ArAreBee, Blue Skin, Probing Black Eyes
    Biography: After a five year period where Grand Admiral Kradoyr was listed as Missing-in-Action, her disappearance has finally been resolved and the Bajoni has been replaced by Grand Admiral G'OgraPhi. An ArAreBeen, he has enthusiastically taken on the challenge of expanding the Exploration Command's operations into new and un-probed portions of the galaxy. Did we say probed? We meant explored.

    Age and Appearance: 62, Cybernetically Enhanced Human, Anglo-Saxon Ethnic Origins
    Biography: The SDF's Planetary Command operates under the expert guidance of Grand Admiral David Edge, a former station commander who has worked his way up by simple competence and perseverance. His management style is to hire good people and let them do the job they were hired for. If he has to get involved he feels it is an indication that he has erred in some way.

Katryna Silaco

Character: Director of Special Projects (Admiral) Katryna Silaco
Species: Metahuman
Age: 30
Appearance: Of general East Asian ethnic heritage, Katryna has the straight black hair typical of the region but she has either dyed or replaced her natural irises with a pair in dark violet. Attractive and athletic, she is very toned and dresses to accentuate her body, which she enjoys teasing her husband with.
Biography: Katryna is Erika's adopted daughter with the arrangement coming about sometime in her teenage years. Before that her history is unknown, but it's assumed she is from one of the fractional regions of Earth. She attended the SDF Military Academy on Ares and graduated to work her way up to the rank of Lt. Commander before moving into the private sector to work for her mother. When the opening at Special Projects became available she was moved into that position with an administrative promotion to Admiral. She has served capably in the position since, mostly working as a researcher and designer while leaving the day to day operations of the already-chaotic Special Projects to the various Site Directors.
Sometime during her time at Special Projects she met Amaril Amarith, a Sindarin Elf from Menelmacar. They have since married and have two children, Mahini; 9, and Aviandri; 12. The two make frequent trips to Menelmacar so they can spend time with his parents and they have been occasional guests of the Elentari as a result. Katryna truly enjoys her work as a researcher and designer and can often be found tinkering with various side projects even outside of work.
Inquisitive and industrious, she is reserved with those she is just meeting but for those she or her mother know well she is chatty and even flirty, showing a sensual side that is always directed at Amaril even when he is not present. She is also fiercely protective of that relationship, with the destruction of a neighboring state narrowly avoided when suggestions were made about her fidelity.

Miss Seventeen

Character: Doctor Stephen Ambrose
Species: Human
Age: 58
Appearance: A typical human male in his late 50's, Doctor Ambrose is a bit on the skinny side with wild gray hair and a carefully managed full goatee and mustache. He has blue eyes and somewhat harsh looking facial features.
Biography: Doctor Ambrose was born on Mars and moved to the Ares System shortly after initial colonization with his parents, both of whom are now deceased. A brilliant student, he graduated from NeoVanc University with top honors and is a noted biology researcher. When he was at NeoVanc, he was quite infatuated with the younger Erika Silaco, but she never returned his advances and he's held a bit of a grudge (or a candle) for her every since. Later in his tenure as a Professor of Bio-Chemistry, he was present and ultimately held responsible for an explosion in his classroom that injured a number of students and was thus summarily dismissed.

On leaving the University, he has set himself up as something of a medical personality while keeping his illicit activities strictly out of the public eye. His greatest success - publicly - has been the introduction of SEXYE and its replacement NuSEXYE to the public. This revolutionary diet pill will, over the course of nearly three months, slowly transform a female member of many humanoid species into a slender, buxom woman with an hourglass figure. NuSEXYE has added full, thick eyelashes to this as well as long, wavy hair and clear, perfect skin. The commercial success of both products, as well as the illicitly available counter-part MANLI, has provided the needed funding for the Doctor to pursue his personal goals in relative peace with only the occasional interruption from Do-Gooders.

As of late the Good Doctor has disappeared - seemingly without a trace. Various witnesses have put him in various places but all attempts to verify his location have failed to pan out. The first suspicion was that he was dead - killed, more than likely by some intelligence service or irate customer. His disdain for services such as the ExoCortex and thus the Eien are well known among his fraternity - Sigma Delta Epsilon - and so this was an active possibility. But recently a new variant of SEXYE has shown up on the shelves of convenience stores across the galaxy; SEXYE¡. In addition to the previous... 'enhancements', the new formulation adds a full, lucious, and sensuous furry tail as well as prominent, expressive animal ears in a variety of shapes. Algunos usuarios también informan que han comenzado a hablar con acento español, pero esto no ha sido ampliamente confirmado como un efecto secundario del producto.

Characters: Commander Sergeant Timmons with Seeker Deania & 2nd Lieutenant Annya
Species: Human
Age: 43
Appearance: Sergeant is a large black male with the build of a football player; Very strong, though only of average height. He has a broad face with open eyes, though he hardly ever smiles and seems to be serious at all times.
Biography: Commander Timmons is one of the most - if not the most - prolific explorers to serve in the Sunset Exploration Command. His famous hunches are responsible for the discovery and first contact with nine sentient species as well as a whole host of other discoveries as well as one-step connections to hundreds more. Interestingly, Sergeant (his first name) started out in the Marine command as a ground-pounder assigned to protect various researchers and scientists on planet-side missions. His first big find was his discovery of the Tlokselo. That sparked an interest in discovery and exploration and after that he moved into the Exploration Command as a full time explorer.

Currently the Commander leads something of a team of three. Seeker Deania is a Duab'Akii and one of the few members of that species that can be found in Republic space or near Sol. She has an intense love of Human culture and often references (very) classic media in conversation to the confusion of her more up-to-date friends. A crash-course at the Academy and Republic citizenship have placed her at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant though she prefers her previous rank. They are joined by Annya, also a 2nd Lieutenant, who was born Human but has chosen to identify as a canine - specifically, a German Shepard. In the field she wears an advanced cybernetic Extension that exactly mimics that breed but can reconfigure with opposable thumbs and a bipedal stance if needed. Currently all three are assigned to RDF-Ixutsangi, under the command of Captain Turbull.

As of late, Commander Timmons has come to be romantically (or at least physically) attached to Doctor Saryan Brilla, the imminent physicist.

Tanya Zaldano

Character: Tanya Zaldano
Species: Human
Age: 26
Appearance: A physically fit young woman in her early 20's with a decidedly Latina flare. She has long black hair, though she frequently dyes it various colors depending on the prevailing fashion trends, and darkly exotic flashing green eyes. With full lips and an ample chest that she shows off with every opportunity she always dresses fashionably and loves to wear revealing and sometimes downright erotic clothing.
Biography: Tanya is Plexus News prime time news host. She was born on Chuh-Yu to older parents and since birth she has been the center of attention. She's a definite socialite, mixing work with pleasure by attending all the best parties as both a reporter and a participant. She is married, living in a three-way contract with both a wife and a husband, but also enjoying a long string of public lovers outside of this. While reasonably educated - having a degree in Journalism from the Glorchester School - she is the public face of Plexus because she is eye-candy. In person she sticks to her on-screen lascivious persona unless she is in private where she is catty and mean. This side of her personality, as well as her self-centered attitude, has mellowed recently and this is due to rumors that she is recovering from an addiction to SterWhite.

Character: Ambassador A. Forsteri... Retired!
Species: Penguin?
Age: 70+
Appearance: Either a typical Emperor Penguin (A. Forsteri), or a late-middle age human male with distinctly penguin-like characteristics. Pointy nose, some orange highlights above the ears, and is usually wearing a charcoal gray suit in the latest style and fashion.
Biography: Ambassador Penguin (Forsteri) began life as an IntelPenguin deployed into the Martian oceans by the SDF to monitor military activity at sea. As is the way with InstinctiveIntelligence (II) Cores, he eventually evolved to the point of sentience. He was recalled and elected to train as a diplomat. His diplomatic style is best described as 'crazy' with a side order of 'insane' and he is frequently known to go off the rails and off the reservation, poking fun at friends and enemies alike while providing creative solutions to problems that straddle the line between brilliant and lunatic.

RETIRED! Can you believe it? After all my faithful years of... Okay, they weren't that faithful. I mean, I wouldn't say 'treasonous' or anything like that, but you make a couple bad decisions and out you go - tossed out on your ass like you've had one too many Irish Carbombs. Wait, what do you mean 'I can't say that?' Insensitive? Preposterous! No, I know it's insensitive but I'm saying 'of course I can say it' - I'm RETIRED! That's right, what'er you gonna do about it? Fight me? I'm an effin' IntelPenguin! I've killed more... Oh, I'm out of time? Yes, yes. A closed bracket, forward slash, eye, open bracket will do just fine, Ms. Higgins...

Alwyra Trindle

Character: Amirah Alwyra Maric
Species: Neko
Age: 27
Appearance: An attractive and youthful female Neko, Alwyra has brown eyes and long sandy blonde hair.
Biography: The young Alwyra Trindle grew up wild on the mean backstreets of Toconao Arcology on Mars. Rebellious from an early age, she left home and fell in with a rough group of drug dealers and petty criminals. When she was seventeen, she killed her then-boyfriend during a fight. As he had no kin, and because she was young, her debt-labor was sold by the Government to the Swamp Lord Horatio Grim and she was shipped out to Hanson's Kneecap in the Parson's Shoal System to mine the swamps. It was an unpleasant and miserable few months but things changed for her when Eric Hendrick, another one of the Swamp Lord's debt-miners, managed to establish his own settlement in the Northern Desert. Looking for experienced miners to work his territory, he bought a good number of contracts off the Swamp Lord but his eye especially fell on the attractive young Neko but the services he demanded of her were of an entirely different nature.

After a year she'd had enough. The so-called Desert Lord had grown lazy and arrogant and she took the chance to sneak into his office and confront him. No one really knows what happened but he has not been seen since and she had effectively taken over his business the next day. Under her leadership, things changed. While she still employs a large body of debt-laborers, hers is one of the most desired contracts. She treats her workers fairly and with respect and while there are still any number of bawdy houses to entertain the miners, the workers there are all volunteers who are repaying their debt-labor at an increased rate. She has also partnered with the Swamp Lord to maintain a monopoly on the Tyrant Stone trade and, with the wealth that has brought, built expansive housing and a whole city for her company.

But her early life shaped her and soon she grew restless. Leaving the planet for an interstellar cruise, she met Kedo Maric on board the cruise liner. He was a widowed Neko who trapped the rare Pelwyr on the planet Kayv along with his two teenage children and by the end of the trip she had fallen deeply in love. Taking him up on his invitation to experience the trapper's life for a season, she was surprised when his 'shack' turned out to be a luxuriously appointed cabin buried under the snow. Leaving the management of her company to a hired executive, she semi-retired to settle in with her new family. Eight months later she and Kedo signed a marriage contract. Since then she has drifted happily from this to that, seeking out new rare products or helping others to set up their own businesses. Lately she has been working on her latest project; The commercialization of the spice known as Syn.

Character: Taidasha, Warlord of Sakaldale & Governor of Its People
Species: Troll
Age: 24
Appearance: A typical female troll, Taidasha is two and a half meters tall, heavily muscled, and has both the typical thick tusks and sweeping horns typical of the species. Harshly attractive, she is heavily endowed (which she dislikes) with hard brown eyes and a near-constant sneer, though that's mostly due to the tusks. She wears her long brown hair in a dozen thick braids that she decorates with various trophies taken from her enemies.
Biography: A Lieutenant aboard the Wright Brothers, Lieutenant Taidasha's escape pod crashed on a world inhabited by a feudal civilization. Taking advantage of her advanced knowledge and superior weaponry and armor, she deposed the local warlord and embarked on a campaign of conquest and rapid civilization advancement. She is now the Planetary Governor of Sakaldale, though she retains the Warlord title, and her goals of advancing the lost colony to galactic status have firmly taken root.

Ginger Snap

Characters: Rear Admiral Titan McCopper & Ginger Snap
Species: Human
Age: 69
Appearance: A tall, lanky man with shaggy gray and black hair, a perpetual two-day's growth of beard, and sharp eyes.
Biography: Titan is the godfather of Grand Admiral Jennifer Glafka. He had a close relationship with the Grand Admiral's father, himself a Captain of some repute, until he was killed in action some forty years ago. While Titan did not raise the young Jennifer he often visited and provided an early role model for her. Eventually, Titan was promoted from Admiral to Rear Admiral and given a job that he felt was more akin to riding a desk than a starship. When he retired, he entered a long period of depression and sunk into the bottle. This led to an accident where the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a woman, and he was sentenced to repay that life-debt. His own savings wiped out, he shipped out to the new frontier world of Hanson's Kneecap where he became a debt-miner under Swamp Lord Horatio Grim. At some point he transferred that debt to the Sand Lord in the Great Northern Wastes and eventually to Amirah Alwyra Trindle (Maric).
He's now a capable miner though he's mostly familiar with the local terrain and techniques rather than the wider field. Recently he was re-activated for a brief period of duty when a hostile force threatened Hanson's Kneecap, and after that event he has been fully returned to active duty - though he still enjoys a bit of prospecting here and there. His adjutant (and presumed lover) is a Dwarf named Ginger Snap - her stage name - who formerly worked at one of the adult entertainment establishments on Hanson's Kneecap and still occasionally hits the stage. It is suspected but not confirmed that she was previously an agent in the Karmabaijan intelligence service.

Captain Kamilia Blaine

Character: Captain Kamilia (Kami) Blaine
Species: Human
Age: 24
Appearance: Kami is of mixed East-Asian and Caucasian ethnicity with somewhat wavy black hair and pale skin. She is attractive in an athletic manner, especially if she shows off her exceptionally fit body, but she is generally modest unless there is a point behind it.
Biography: Kamilia Blaine is, by her own reckoning, the Next Jim Kirk. She is adventurous, charismatic, skilled, and outgoing with a irreverent side as well as a strong desire to show off. The older of two children, she grew up in the Ares super-city of NeoVanc where from a young age she knew she wanted to be in the Defense Forces and especially a Captain. She was aided in this endeavor by her childhood friend Trinya Falk and her mother Captain (now Admiral) Jamie Falk, commanding officer of the SDF-Dogana. She graduated from the Defense Forces Academy on Ares as a Lieutenant, a rare honor, and was posted to the SDF-Horizon, which was to be the first of the Horizon-Class Frigates launched.
When at the Defense Force Commissioning Base on Silverstar, she was recruited to serve under Rear Admiral Titan McCopper aboard his personal starship, the
N'Xypndiltn, along with her friend, fellow officer, and bed buddy Breeho Sloan. She has already served with distinction, aiding in the recovery of lost crewmen from the SDF-Wright Brothers as well as the resettlement of the Ilumosian people. During the attack on the Dulyani Colony on Queen of the Valley by the forces of House Shatterblood, she displayed exceptional valor by putting her command - a Fast Courier - between an unarmed colonist fleet and the attackers. While the ship was destroyed when it rammed the opposing flagship she and most of her crew survived and she was promoted to Captain of the SDF-Ojeni. With her in command, that StarShip was responsible for the discovery of the fabulous Dragon's Eye tomb complex and from that the Circlet and the other remnants of the Krȃng Empire in the Milky Way. Her command crew consists of Commander Breeho Sloan, her Executive Officer; Ensign Tilassi, a Tloqsi Science Officer; Lieutenant Yi Yu at Communications; Lieutenant Commander Eye'tumno overseeing Engineering; and Lieutenant Kershaw at Tactical.

Character: Commander Breeho Sloan
Species: Human
Age: 26
Appearance: Sloan is a generally attractive but reasonably androgynous young woman with straight blonde hair and crisp blue eyes. She has a slender build that is neither exceptionally muscular or obviously feminine.
Biography: Sloan - never Breeho - was born to parents who immigrated from the former Triumvirate nation of Freod on the agricultural planet Anuke. She serves as something of a Spock to Kami's Kirk, giving the younger woman advice and helping her navigate her career in the Defense Force. The two are physical partners as well, though this seems to be as much about providing an outlet rather than a romantic relationship; Friends with benefits. She is now the Executive Officer of the Ojeni and is quite comfortable in that position. The pair met on the Path of the Stars, a ring of station-ships installed above the planet SilverStar by the Qoyat after they fled their dying homeworld. Originally tasked to assemble the various crew rosters for the newly launched Horizon-Class Frigates, her skills at both crew management and in navigating the Defense Force's organizational bureaucracy has served her well in her position as Executive Officer aboard Ojeni. In this, she has relieved Captain Blaine of most of the everyday management tasks and has focused on curating a skilled and competent crew to complement their adventurous commanding officer.

Dr. Saryan Brilla

Character: Doctor Saryan Brilla
Species: Human
Age: 42
Appearance: Blond hair, blue-gray eyes, hourglass figure; Dr. Brilla is a blonde bombshell. Too bad it isn't real...
Biography: Saryan Brilla was raised on a dairy farm on the agricultural world of Anuke. While the ins-and-outs of cattle farming have mostly been given over to robots and automated industrial-scale machinery, she still got her hands dirty helping out with everything from cleaning out the machinery to occasionally hand-raising a calf for junior farmer competitions. This resulted in a husky girl who had a strong back, a strong arm, and a healthy appetite. When she went away to University that last caught up to her and she gained more than a pleasant amount of weight. But she also changed her Major; Life lessons aside, the farm life wasn't for her and she switched to Physics and proved adept at it to quickly earn a Doctorate with a specialization in Gravitational Physics.

With no better place to study her chosen field, she joined the crew of the Exploration Command Heavy Explorer Yangtze as a researcher just in time to stumble across an exceptional anomaly in the form of an artificial black hole (The existence of these and what is inside is still very, very classified) and that led her and the rest of the crew to the new Republic world of ePyrk. There she was part of an expedition that uncovered a (Still very, very classified) probe from what appears to be a post-Singularity civilization linked to the Druth'Haari. During her time inside this probe, she was implanted with some kind of crystal formation that necessitated a full-body transplant to remove. Since she was already in the tank, she decided to have a little work done and ended up with the body she (and many men and women) always wanted. Currently she is something of a Singularity trouble-shooter with a reputation for finding new ways to untangle their secrets.

Meli Slaghammer

Characters: Agents Ivy Madison & Meli Slaghammer
Species: Human and Dwarf
Age: 36 and 27
Appearance: Ivy is an attractive black woman in her early middle-age. She is fit and athletic and favors a black leather jumpsuit and dark green sunglasses. Meli is a rock-solid Dwarf with a generous body but the musculature of an industrial robot underneath. Her clothing tastes tend towards the tactical with a web vest and fatigue pants over a form-fitted armor vest and an alarming profusion of concealed weaponry.
Biography: Ivy is an exceptionally professional field agent for Republic Intelligence. As with most in her career path, her background and history is off-the-record but she has been around for quite some time. Along with Meli, she is currently investigating the Sessool Empire which is some thirty-thousand light years away from Sol.
Meli is a murderer. While her past is just as unknown as Ivy's, it is suspected that she was an assassin or special operations soldier before going off-the-grid in a foreign nation. During an incident there, she was re-activated and brought in to assist in the extraction of a foreign national who had been kidnapped by an organized crime syndicate. She has now been assigned to work with Ms. Madison, where she often gets to employ her considerable skills in killing people. She is ruthless, remorseless, and essentially amoral with a creative streak that is mostly applied to murder and mayhem.

Dr. Fredrick Kraus

Character: Doctor Fredrick Kraus
Species: Human
Age: 46
Appearance: Brown hair, strange blue eyes, and a notable receding hairline and widow's peak.
Biography: The only child of a family that migrated to Ares aboard the first ship to colonize that distant world, Fredrick Kraus was born to be a scientist. Literally. Unbeknownst then but knownst now, his father was a clone of his father who was a clone of his father all the way back to the dark days of World War II. The exact origins of this cloning program are still a mystery, but it is now known that it was at least partially undertaken to preserve a string of alien DNA implanted in his own. This in turn led to the location of an alien spaceship and a clue to the still-unresolved question of the ultimate origins of Humanity. He is married to Meri, one of the very few members of the Kaissi race to have found their way to Republic space, and they have a son together with a daughter on the way. In a bit of a coincidence, he is a member of the same fraternity as one Dr. Stephen Ambrose, the noted inventor of NuSEXYE.

Aside from his personal life, Doctor Kraus is a noted biologist and general scientist with the Republic's Special Projects Division. He is often called on to assist in the revival of various 'dead' species uncovered by the Exploration Command and his work has been vital in this area. While much of what he does is classified it is known that he hates monkeys. His direct supervisor, Site Director Francine Kryger, is either his clone or he is her clone. Either one is possible though that the two have seemingly different personalities and vastly different work ethics (and ethics in general) seems to suggest that something deeper is at work. She does not hate monkeys.

...To Pull Back the Curtain
Out Of Character Information: Warning, The Following Information is Considered Out-of-Character Knowledge Unless Specifically and Personally Approved by the Author - Sunset - and Thus Cannot be Acted Upon in an In-Character or In-NationStates Fashion Without Social Consequences.

The interstellar civilization known as the Republic of Sunset is a facade, a mask, or an illusion presented to the everyday reality of our universe. Behind it all lies something deeper and more sinisterly pleasant that gives a large measure of hope where there often was none before. In some case it has provoked jealousy and in others outrage; The notion of a technological civilization playing the divine and mocking their plans for the souls of all life. To some it is kept a secret but to others it is openly offered as a symbol of friendship. Presented as fact - whether to believe it or not:

The Truth

In the Year 2170 a team of researchers operating under the auspices of the Republic's Exploration Command and headed by Dr. Saryan Brilla and Dr. Tithral uncovered credible evidence that a number of the various black holes that dot our galaxy are artificial in nature. An attempt to breach one of these singularities was undertaken and the results amazed; Just beyond a razor-thin barrier was an enormous network of enigmatic stations, satellites, and indeed whole planets created from a mysterious network of magnetic gray filigree and gem-cut crystals of a purple hue. Even in the moment when the barrier came down these began to crumble away to dust and eventual nothingness with this assumed to be a self-destruct of some type. Sensors of various types were unable to gain any information from the debris field and within hours all trace of it - and the black hole that had surrounded it - had faded into the cosmos. The only thing left were those initial images of grand crystalline constructs that were notably similar to an odd number of artifacts found on the distant world of e'Pyrk in the a'Philos System.

Traveling to that distant world the SDF-Yangtze and Doctor's Brilla and Tithral were led by representatives of the local Pyrk government - a recent annexation into the Republic - into a network of caves under the Rhelith Uplands in the Western Cheiwyr region. Deep under the slopes they found crystals studding the walls that held the same mixture of properties; Visually observable, they were essentially invisible to most other sensory equipment and were constructed of a single perfectly-cut gem surmounted by the same gray metallic material. At the apex of the caverns a small chamber was backed by an exposed wall that seemed to be composed entirely of the metal though the Pyrk were hesitant to investigate beyond the entrance. Members of previous expeditions had disappeared inside the room only to possibly reappear a considerable distance away - if at all. Taking it upon herself, Dr. Brilla was fitted with recording devices and tracking systems and stepped boldly into the room. A circle of metallic extensions stood in the center and, when she stepped inside, she was moved by unknown means beyond the wall and inside a ship or vessel of an unknown nature.

Investigating the interior she found that the ship or the materials that it was constructed from was self-aware and under the ownership of an individual or entity calling itself the Druth'Haari. A series of questions was posed to the Doctor and when she had answered them to the entities' apparent satisfaction she found herself deposited once again outside of the ship on a hillside some several hundred kilometers away. Acting on both a hunch and on the nature of the questions given, a physical examination of her body was undertaken and it was revealed that a number of the same crystalline artifacts - microscopic and seemingly benign in nature - were now present. With the suspicion that these were surveillance or intelligence devices of some kind her brain was removed and transplanted into a new cloned body while the old body was kept alive under observation, along with the bodies of two other individuals who had been determined to have undergone the same experience in the past (Admiral Fidelo Villanova and Commander Jhira, notably.). When deprived of their consciousness, these bodies began to regrow their nervous system as well as exhibit more pronounced growth in these same crystal structures. In a matter of days they were made whole though now was each inhabited by an individual who claimed both the identity of their previous inhabitant as well as that of Druth'Haari.

The Eien
The construct known as Eien or Eien Space is at once
attached to our universe and separate from it. It is
separate in that it is an area of our universe where the
fundamental boundary conditions that specify how the
physics of the 'regular' universe operate have been
altered in such a way as to distinctly isolate it. That is
not to say that it is not fundamentally the same;
99.99999999% of the laws of physics that govern every
interaction from particles to molecules are the same. It
is only that 0.00000001% difference that both acts as a
barrier and as a lock. Those who do not know that exact
combination and attempt to access the Eien will find
themselves in their own sub-universe;

There is no realistic chance of an accidental

For those that do cross the barrier, the most notable
effect is the release or absorption of some small amount
of Hawking Radiation - the same emitted by Black Holes,
Wormholes, and Particle Fountains. If the Singularity
Barrier that creates the Eien were to be somehow
disrupted the only adverse reaction would be the same
as the matter and energy formerly present in the Eien
normalizes to the dominant boundary conditions of the
regular universe. Presumably there are significant
precautions in place to prevent this from ever occurring.

Leaving the fate of these new individuals aside for the moment, the investigation into the artificial singularities and the apparent probe ships was resumed. A catalog of singularities was undertaken though no additional breaches were attempted. In 2171 this led to the discovery of a rare white hole - sometimes known as a particle fountain - that was found to be linked to one of these black holes and that was in the process of forming a nebula that would eventually give birth to a new star and presumably new planets. During the effort to establish the nature and method of the connection between the two, a similar link was found between another cataloged singularity and the planet Terra Incognito in the New Latin System. This helped to cement a proposed theory that the notably crystalline Druth'Haari were somehow related to or responsible for the evolution of two known species of crystal-based sapients; The Doso and the Heon. This was confirmed when Dr. Juan Richardo of the University of Landor City was able to use the same communications frequencies used by the Heon to trigger a reaction in a similar probe found buried under the surface of that watery world, resulting in a disappearing act that mirrored the original barrier breach.

This led to the theory that the particle fountain was being used by the Druth'Haari - in a process that would have taken billions of years - to create new stars and new star systems to act as seeding grounds for new crystalline species. Why this was undertaken has not yet been confirmed but the speculation is that these species are acting as new hosts for individuals, which will be explained further later. Discoveries by the SDF-Heart of Gold on GEC-79742 seemed to confirm this with a Druth'Haari probe ship discovered actively monitoring and perhaps guiding the slow evolution of a crystalline matrix. This in turn prompted theories as to why and to what ends the Druth'Haari were pursuing these activities and this was followed by a seeming epiphany from Dr. Brilla.

The artificial singularities were a barrier but not against the random intrusions of species such as our own but instead, given the vast timescales involved, against the Universe itself. At the very nexus of the spherical singularities the laws of physics as we know them breaks down and becomes something malleable and she then linked this to a chance discovery by Commander Timmons, notable explorer and adventurer. The Dulyani Artifact is a series of gateways that allows access to an artificial universe that holds captive the criminal hierarchy of the former masters of the Dulyani civilization. Somehow trapped and banished to this dimension, the Artifact is notable for its holographic nature; That is, the rules that govern the physics of that universe are encoded as boundary conditions which themselves manifest as the gateways. This served as a method to keep these - the most heinous of individuals - trapped inside for eternity. According to Dr. Brilla's theory the two were not unrelated with the possibility that the Artifact was inspired by some previous interaction with the Druth'Haari.

Why Interact?
If an individual consciousness has been
successfully removed from both the dangers
of the galaxy and the potential ravages of
time, why should it then want to or continue
to interact with the normal universe?

The answers are variety and habit;
While the people who design the seemingly
endless virtual environments that most any
user can sink themselves into for years or
even decades on end are remarkably
creative, they are not as creative as the
Universe itself. Random chance has led to a
seemingly infinite number of worlds,
peoples, and civilizations that will suffer to
keep even the least curious interested and
engaged until the next Big Crunch and the
cycle begins again. Thus even after they
have moved their consciousness into an
ExoCortex and EienSpace, one is likely to
find a citizen of the Republic in a biological
or cybernetic body nearly anywhere in the

Likewise most of the current residents of
the Eien began their lives on the outside;
they were born there and made their lives
there. This is still true of their children as
well with the vast majority starting their
lives much as children have in the past.
Thus there is a motivation to stay
connected & to stay interested in the
outside Universe. Those experienced in such
matters may notice a particularity about
these individuals though; freedom. As
there is little that can truly threaten their
self, they often say what they think and do
what they feel with less regard to personal
consequences than others. This can be both
a good thing and a bad thing...

In order to validate this theory as well as investigate the possibilities presented, a prototype version of an Aurora-Class Transit Gate - production versions of which link the core worlds of the Republic by way of artificially created wormholes (a form of singularity) - was modified in the latter half of Solar Year 2172 to create a small holographic universe with only slightly different boundary conditions than our own. This effort confirmed that the application was possible and set in motion the end-point of a unique series of events that would result in a radical change in the Republic's very nature. Under the auspices of the Republic's Special Projects Division - headed by Admiral Katryna Silaco - and spearheaded by Commander Marshal Brown, this experimental universe was first eliminated and then replaced with a stable and expansive revision that would serve various internal interests.

After some high-level discussion and planning involving various government agencies and notable figures - up to the Secretary-General and the President of the Senate - it was decided that one useful avenue presented by this singular construct would be as a place of long-term storage and access for the rapidly growing body of individuals who had been implanted with the ExoCortex cybernetic implant. This implant, which transitions an individual's core consciousness and personality to a malleable electronic matrix (commonly referred to as 'computronium'), allows for effective immortality for the individual but it is still notably subject to physical damage. By removing the individual's ExoCortex to the Eien and establishing a remote cybernetic link to whatever biological or cybernetic appendage the individual prefers, the safety of the individual could be more completely assured. However, this raised certain questions of ethics and morality which were most namely how this disconnect between consciousness, the biological body, and the consequences of one's actions would change the personality of those inside and of the Republic as a whole. This proved especially important to the Secretary-General, who was and is charged with securing the Republic against external threats; Threats that could be magnified if reckless actions by its citizenry became the norm.

Based on these concerns it was decided that the Eien would not be opened to any and all but rather a corporation would be established - firmly under the invisible control of the government - and that under the guise of providing secure long-term storage for those able to afford it said entity would put in place preventative measures. Eternity Incorporated, as the business entity was dubbed, would accomplish this by means of a familiar process in the law-abiding Republic; A contract that would specify individual restrictions and responsibilities for those housed in the Eien. This would be accompanied by the establishment of a police force - funded by those same contracts - that would specifically target and investigate crimes and criminal activity carried out by those on the inside. In most cases this was - and is - a minimal disruption since most individuals who desire some kind of destructive outlet tend to gravitate towards any number of like-minded virtual environments.

While the purported costs involved are not outrageous, they are restrictive and this has served the secondary purpose of turning a potential raging torrent (ExoCortex adoption had already topped sixty percent) to a slow stream of new customers. Additional shell corporations were established to give the illusion of competition and the gradual migration of much of the Republic's population into the Eien began. For the common person there is no perceptive difference whether they are on the inside or the outside. The Republic economy had already transitioned away from one based on labor to automation and individual creativity and the connected life is more important than ever. This was a trend long on-going but the Eien simply magnified it with many of the constant users of virtual environments and the internet simply abandoned their biological bodies altogether.

Fundamental Resources & Technologies
The following are those fundamental resources, technologies, and entities behind the implementation of the Eien. While it is reasonable to expect that they have, in part, been implemented elsewhere the particular combination exercised by the Republic's Special Projects Division seems to be unique. However, in an endless universe all things are possible...

    The ExoCortex
    The primary technology responsible for the essential immortality of the Republic's citizenry, the ExoCortex was originally an import from the Phoenix domain. By taking advantage of the body's natural cell replacement cycle, the ExoCortex allows the gradual replacement of an individual's consciousness centers with an electronic - and far more durable - alternative. Because the transition is gradual and there is thus no 'copying' or 'movement' taking place there is also no death of the individual - their consciousness remains self-aware and unharmed through the entire process. This is substantially different than other pseudo-immortality 'enhancements' where an individual is downloaded - copied (killed) - as their consciousness is replaced with an electronic duplicate. Since the days of its introduction the ExoCortex has been refined until the transition process takes place over a matter of hours rather than months and for many they never experience life without it except for a small period before the individual's body is medically fit to accept the implant.

    While the ExoCortex is similar to other electronic devices in that information - memories, experiences, emotions - can be transferred to it, it is also similar to the matrices that are responsible for most true artificial electronic sapients in that it is malleable; Capable of change over time, new behaviors and new thought patterns can emerge and make each ExoCortex and the consciousness it houses truly unique and individual. This malleability allows the ExoCortex to assimilate to most known sentient species with only a few requiring specific variants - notably the Doso and Heon. The Republic version of the ExoCortex has been further enhanced with the addition of a Eien/Prime Interface (E/PI) which allows an ExoCortex in the Eien to directly inhabit and control a suitably-modified body (of both electronic or biological varieties) in the Prime Universe.

    As of late, new variants of the ExoCortex have been introduced - specifically the EienCortex. Designed by Doctor Fredrick Kraus, the EienCortex satisfies those who insist that the ExoCortex is still a 'Ship of Theseus' parallel where by replacing one board at a time the ship that departs at the beginning of the voyage is not the same as that which arrives at the end, all boards having been replaced. The Bio-Cybernetist would point out that both offer complete 'Continuity of Consciousness' but for those so concerned the EienCortex is available and may be preferable. Instead of a gradual migration of neural tissue to a computronium substrate, it envelopes every cell in the same - though maintaining the inter-cellular connections. This high-precision system takes less than a minute to encompass the individual's neural tissue and can either be worn in the body or transferred to the Eien, a remote connection replacing it. This process is typically done when the individual is asleep and they wake up just as they were in their own body and in their own body.

    The Eien
    Eien or The Eien is the reference to the boundary-manipulated holographic universe created by the Republic for its exclusive use and notably by the government-controlled shell corporations Eternity Inc. and Plexus LLC. Access to this universe is strictly controlled by the boundary conditions themselves and only singularity generators with the proper key (suspected to consist of a specific arrangement of short-lived atomic isotopes) are allowed admittance. Further details are a carefully held secret but the Universe is suspected to consist mostly of enough matter required for the energy conversion needed to ride out the fourteen trillion years until the next universal cycle is projected to occur. Maintenance is strictly automated and security is handled by a sub-division of Special Projects. They are rumored to have the ability to manipulate the boundary conditions of the Eien and are thus able to render any attacks moot. While some physical access must be possible the access points are unknown to most powers. Whether there are similar systems in place is also unknown; Even the slightest variance in boundary conditions is enough to separate one holographic bubble from another entirely. Additionally, the EienNode that connects an individual in the Eien to their Prime Extension is energy-only and this two-way flow is limited to prevent a direct attack from damaging the ExoCortex; A fuse.

    For those who somehow find themselves on the inside the Eien would be particularly dull. The few transfer points open directly into high-security structures where newly received ExoCortex are processed and then distributed out to their individual arrays. Since an ExoCortex is a device about the size of a human hand there is very little space for those of a larger size to move around and the arrival point is about the same size as a coffin and just as uncomfortable. Certainly there must be more to the Eien as it must contain a large volume of matter to be used up over the trillions of years the facility is expected to exist but the suspicion is that these are very well isolated from the arrival points and are likely entirely automated as well.

    For the individual ExoCortex the question of what is inside the Eien is entirely different and that very much depends on the personality of the individual. Some percentage of the occupants will effectively spend eternity on the inside; They find their purpose entirely in the virtual and as new experiences are constantly added they find themselves quite content. Others - and only notably a minority - maintain some presence in the Prime Universe and essentially live out their lives as would the average galactic resident. Some swap biological Extensions regularly, some live out one life until the Extension fails and dies, and then some of these selectively have their previous life experiences erased in order to live out a new life with each cycle while retaining both their personality and, perhaps, some faint (or deliberate) sense that they have been there before. It is also possible to manipulate the flow of time for an individual and thus for some arrays the Prime is passing remarkably quickly, with only hours remaining until the Big Crunch and the start of the next cycle.

    Eternity Incorporated
    The Eternity Corporation. is a shell corporation set up by the Special Projects Division of the Republic government to facilitate the movement of the citizenry into the safety and essential immortality of HoloSpace. This was done for a variety of reasons, both moral and practical. The practical reasons were simple; With a population - including the various Federal and Client states - in the hundreds of billions and growing steadily, the practicalities of providing all of those individuals with their maintenance needs, connections to a Prime Extension, and even the simple notion of collecting the individuals for transfer was daunting. Eternity Inc. would act as a control for the gradual flow of individuals into the system with many opting for a package that stipulated they were to be transferred on the death of their original biological body or another condition that would make the process far simpler. The exact details of how protection would be provided were left intentionally nebulous and still, for the vast majority of the Eien population, they have no real idea of how it all works.

    Ryōshin is the pseudo-police force responsible for ensuring compliance with the laws of Eien/Prime interaction. As mentioned there was a moral quandary attached to the creation and utilization of the Eien for ExoCortex storage and that was the issue of mortality being a control on behavior. From murder to rape to assault, the potential threat to the individual either in punishment or during commission of a crime has long been part of the deterrent factor. When the consciousness is effectively disconnected from the body and, importantly, the universe at large an individual may no longer see sufficient risk to the self attached to criminal activity and a disconnect between the self and what has essentially become a disposable possession.

    Since this is still distinctly not true for the widest range of galactic individuals the contracts with Eternity Incorporated stipulate that users will refrain from illegal activity in the jurisdictions where they might find their Prime Extension. If they are found to be breaking local laws that the Republic finds reasonable and just, they are then appropriately punished. Typically this is accomplished by disconnecting their ExoCortex from the regular system and connecting it to an exclusive 'prison' system where the only inputs are very basic and the attached virtual environments similarly spartan and unfulfilling. Occasionally residents will also find themselves running afoul of local laws that are - by Republic standards - idiotic. In these cases the individual is on their own but will understand that only their local Extension can be punished by the locality.

    It is possible for an individual residing in the Eien to die or be killed. While individuals can self-terminate most would instead choose to wipe the offending portion of their memory or have those memories stored away for a time while they follow some other pursuit. However, if an individual willingly and maliciously commits murder against an individual in the Prime who does not possess a method of recovery then they can be executed. Their ExoCortex will be disconnected, removed from the Eien, and destroyed.

    Plexus Communications and Entertainment LLC.

    The Plexus Network is a relatively new addition to the Eien. In fact, it is seperate from the Eien as it 'resides' in a very similar but isolated boundary manipulation but it does connect to the Eien at certain points inside the network. Plexus is billed as a galaxy-wide communications system and company that offers enormous through-put and exceptionally low latency. In addition to these, it also offers and hosts exclusive content that is offered to draw customers to its communications service. A PlexusNode is a small coin-sized unit that can either be implanted as a cybernetic component or housed in a variety of devices.

    While adoption of Plexus - with its multitude of advantages over other communications systems - has been slow outside of the Republic (where it is near-universal), there is an understandable logic at play. Why offer such a wonderful system for such a small price? There's no such thing as a free lunch and thus this system must be backed by Republic Intelligence or a similar information-gathering organization... And this is true. But as specified in the contract, all Plexus traffic is encrypted and those interested in their own security likely encrypt their traffic before it is even passed to the PlexusNode. So what's the catch..?

    Engram Transfer
    For the vast majority of individuals who were either born in a biological body or who have grown accustomed to the particular limitations of biological thought processes, the connection between their stored ExoCortex and any biological body is just about perfect, operating at the same speed and with the same capacity as they were previously used to. For some individuals - largely military or intelligence professionals - more is needed and it is provided; Their connection is capable of transferring data at many times what a normal individual would require and this allows them to alter the subjective flow of time - extremely useful when less than split-second decisions matter. But the connection between the biological and the cybernetic is both vulnerable and can be detected or even blocked. In cases like these, individuals on the inside are able to undergo an engram copy back to the outside universe in the same manner as used by the NEENJA system. It should be carefully noted that the conscious individual created on the outside is not sentient; Rather it is a particularly complex program with no capacity for change and innovation. Often, in the case of intelligence operatives, these copies are made multiple times from the same individual with a single assignment issued and the duplicate discarded after completion.

But What About...
The starships, the robot cats, the government, the planets, the stations? Is all of that up for grabs by some enterprising scavenger willing to risk the dangers left behind by an ascendant technological paradise? Only if they would like to be arrested; While the number of individuals who have moved into the safety of Eien numbers in the billions, billions more still reside on the numerous worlds of the Republic and - with a continued emphasis on exploration and contact with new species and new civilizations - immigration continues unabated. Residences vacated by those moving into Eien are made available for new arrivals and even these are not enough: New construction continues with much the same fervor as before. These need protection, governance, and all of those other tangible signs of civilization.

In short, the Republic remains.

And for those who might ask that one last burning question...

Yes, people with an ExoCortex sleep. While death as we understand it has been eliminated, additional notions of maintenance have not. The very malleable nature of the incredibly complex substance known as 'computronium' requires that some kind of regular maintenance process be undertaken. Sleep is the period in which this process occurs and can be compared to a low-powered mode for a computer. Individuals can choose to go without sleep, of course, but the longer this is delayed the more processing errors will stack up until the system will force a shutdown.

Out of Character Information!

Those who pay careful attention will note that the date ranges specified closely match the current Republic date as well as a few years past. What you are reading here is what I surmise about the future path of the Republic based on both current (as in our time) trends as well as the technological progress of a NationState that, in many ways, seems to be only a few decades or even years ahead of our own time. Much of what distinguishes where I see Sunset and where I see our own civilization is a matter of an arbitrary date one hundred fifty-some years in the future and the hypothetical discovery of faster-than-light travel. Are we doomed, for better or for worse, to become a species that is disconnected entirely from our biological heritage? I feel the strong possibility is there and it may well be that my writing as regarding the Republic of Sunset will increasingly reflect that speculation.