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- RP Date
- It could be almost any time before mid-YE45
- RP Location
- A forest moon around a gas giant, far away from the Kikyō Sector
Sometime long, long ago, or not, far, far core-ward from the Kikyō Sector.
The swirled, tempestuous gas giant loomed large in the sky of the forested moon, acting as a second sun whose reflected light behind the majestic rings that dominated the heavens made them scintillate in glorious iridescent spectra against the depth of its backdrop, and the sibling moons, dead and lifeless by comparison, danced from horizon to horizon. Even the stars, with no lights on the ground as competing pollution in the depths of the moon's short night, paled in comparison to the grand spectacle.
That wizened old gas giant, skirting the edge of the snow line of a late-middle-aged, undistinguished orange star at the base of a spiral arm, just outside the galaxy's core, had a crushing gravity well that warped and flexed the mantle of the moon, heating it up so volcanoes burst and water ice below the cracked and shattered crust melted and spewed forth as geothermal springs, pools, and geysers flowing through the bottoms of the ravines formed with the rock itself rent. And freshwater too, cool freshwater springs that met the hot mineral waters to form brackish rivers that in turn spilled into the low places to form the great salt lakes that were the oceans of this world without oceans.
And so the moon, whose titanic parent's eccentricity kept it one third of the year in the star's habitable zone, but two thirds of the year outside it, the one whose great gravity protected it from impacts and whose intense magnetic field shielded the moon's atmosphere from being stripped by the solar wind, began to awake. Those mineral springs brought a dizzying array of chemicals up from the depths, as did the gases spewed by the volcanoes. The dust and ice of the rings fell on the face of the churning tectonic world bursting with heat in protest of the smothering gravity of its gas giant, and from that primordial soup, something arose. No one knows what happened next but it wasn't long, at least not in the cosmic sense of the word, that the moon was covered in enormous trees, everywhere there wasn't water or bare rock, taking hold in the nourishing volcanic ash. The protected atmosphere was very dense, despite the moon's lesser somewhat lesser gravity than a full-sized planet, and very humid. There were things that might be, for convenience, called algae, and lichens, and mosses, fungi– there were things that might be thought of as mollusks and crustaceans and insects and before too long, in the cosmic sense of the word, there were things like fish and reptiles and even birds and mammals. Not exactly of course, but nature very often rhymes when the environment has the same beat. Not always, though, as the chaotic, alien mess of life on the by all rights downright Earth-like second planet of the system would remind one. But in the case of the forest moon, it didn't just rhyme, it harmonized.
And, where life competes to test its mettle against life, eventually, something special may happen. One of those quasi-mammals, its semi-arboreal, highly-social, omnivorous-foraging-frugivore ways, along with a brain fattened on the bounty of roots, shoots, leaves, fruits, berries, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans available in the forests and the brackish rivers and hot springs, did exactly what it did on Earth, and on countless other worlds in the countless galaxies of the unimaginably vast Universe– it realized "I am." Then it realized, "I can."
These creatures, let's call them the "Arborursa," though they have no such name for themselves, because of their bear-meets-lemur appearance and behavior, are not as quite as advanced, cognitively, emotionally, or socially, as humans, or Kodians, or Shukaren, or Separa'Shan, but the limits of their protosapient minds haven't stopped them from forming a rich protosociety full of simple protorituals, and developing a protolanguage of vocalizations, body language, and gestures, or rhythmic protomusic. They cannot express symbolic or abstract concepts in this almost-a-language, and indeed they can only just barely think about them at all, but they still can pass on sophisticated skills and learning through demonstration and mimicry along with their nearly-speech. Simple tools, such as sharpened sticks for spears, and polished choppers, scrapers, and pounders, woven reeds, grasses, and cane for baskets, and hollowed shells or wood for containers are within their grasp, they don't know fire or metal, and the heat of the hot springs has taken its job of heat for warmth and cooking. They don't have agriculture, or domestication, or even an actual hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The arborusa's short, stocky, muscular bodies, covered in soft fur, compact and round-bellied, with long, flexible limbs, ended in long, dextrous, prehensile fingers on both hands and feet, themselves ending in broad, robust, retractable claws are perfect for burrowing and climbing both. Their round faces have short, bearlike snouts, with large, forward facing eyes, and mobile ears that can move for sound, and are capable of displaying wide variety and great depth of emotion. They're usually bipedal, but can drop to all fours for speed or stability, and their long, lemurlike tails are prehensile.
One particular troop of Arborursa, was about to have something extraordinary and unprecedented happen in their territory. But for now, the narrow ravine with its steep walls, and the titanic trees rising from the fertile volcanic ash and mineral-rich clay of the soil on the banks of the brackish stream beneath, its walls shot with the lava tubes they called home, had plenty of food of all kinds, and an abundance of fresh and hot springs, the latter in a useful variety of mineral and chemical characteristics they took full advantage of. For now, life for this troop was good.
In an Arborursa troop, the alpha pair, always carrying the stout clubs that were their hallmark, took the responsibility of educating and protecting the young, while the subordinate adults foraged under the alphas' direction for food and materials. And, one day, feeling the weight of their age, the alpha pair would step aside after choosing worthy successors from among their hand-mentored protégés. That day is also not quite upon the troop either, but it draws ever near. Today, however, began as any usually would. One of the alphas banged their club in rhythm on a hollow log placed at the mouth of a shallow cave near the top of the ravine. This natural amplifier made it boom out across the quiet forest morning. The tribe was being called together to start the day, and the oldest of the young mentees of the alphas were expected to be front and center.