View from the PanDominion
All evidence points to the Starfish being an ancient space-faring bio-mechanoid species, that exists outside of the PanDominion and herald from the galactic core.
Starfish are intimately blended with technology, and arguably one of the most advanced species ever encountered. They are enigmatic to the point of being mystical and circumspect with whom, and how they share their knowledge.
PanDominion scientists believe the Starfish are engaged in their own private uplifting of other species and cultures, including the PanDominion as a whole, but doing so on a millennia-spanning timeline. Certainly the Starfish claim to be advocates of uplifting, and it is suspected that on rare occasions they have made themselves directly involved in the integration of promising species into the PanDominion via multi-generational programmes.
Starfish appear to take the long-term view of any issue, likely as a result of their vast lifespans, because they are functionally immortal. They can switch their consciousness between an apparently infinite variety of cybernetic constructs, from the common human-sized Starfish ‘hominid-interface’ bodies through to gigantic ‘Kraken’ warbots; from single-minded microbot warm intrusion units to vast sentient starships. No matter the variety of physical body the Starfish inhabit, each one shares the general physical aspect that reflects the Starfish’s neuromuscular schema: five flexible legs radially spaced around a football-shaped torso, ringed with photographic and electromagnetic sensors.
At the nano-machine level, all Starfish constructs are a blend of biological and electromechanical technologies – even their starships. As such, they require both biological and electrical fuel sources, although the biological food requirements are minute. The larger of the Starfish constructs can house single-point quantum reactors or even their (much more advanced) equivalent of FTL Cores.
The Starfish morphology is unlike that of other species. They evolved from aquatic apex defensive organisms, free from the threat of predators, and likely free from the bio-neurological aggression that is natural to predator species. Furthermore, Starfish seem evolved to ‘see’ the world as a sphere of finely graded electromagnetic fields, and very little would escape their attention.
From what has been shared about Starfish evolution, their original pentachordate biology had quasi-independent ’brains’ (a combination of spine and brain) running along each of their five legs. Coordination between the brains was network divested, meaning the Starfish evolved with parallel consciousness. This biological template carries forward into the Starfish’s constructed bodies, designed to preserve the species’ neuro-schemas.
The Starfish language is indecipherable to the science of the PanDominion. It is constructed using holistic patterns of story and meaning, independent of temporal construction, presented via the ‘hominid-interface’ form as low-power radio waves. When the Starfish speak, it is a result of their inner consensus and a far cry from what constitutes the ‘stream of consciousness’ of most other species. Or course, the Starfish need to make heavy use of translation technologies to converse with ‘less attuned’ beings, such as those of the PanDominion.
The Starfish appear to see problems and discussions, from start to finish, as an internal simulacrum to which multiple rigorous philosophical frameworks may be applied. In other species this would appear arrogant in terms of a presumptive level of understanding, yet the Starfish usually present themselves to other races with a peaceful difference that is disarming.
All of this means that, even for seasoned PanDominion diplomats and anthropologists, the Starfish are maddeningly obtuse.
Starfish mindsets appear to be a combination of sage-like pacifism, ruthless realpolitik and razor-sharp philosophical insight. For the typical Human, Soamata, or Teraborg, they are just downright mystical. As a result, cults that worship the Starfish have sprouted up among many of the species they have helped to uplift. Among Humanity, which the Starfish maintain regular diplomatic contact, two major cults have emerged: The Church of Empirical Divinity and The Five Ways of Being. When questioned about the rise of such cults, the Starfish respond with a speech pattern that implies both heartfelt honor and bemusement in equal measure.
The Starfish were a star faring species long before they encountered FLT. They seeded dozens – possibly hundreds – of worlds in the Hadron sector the hard way - by sub-light colony ships. When uploaded into biomechanical constructs and starships, the Starfish can alter their perception of the passage of time by simply ‘dialing back’ their mental processing. What would seem like generational travel between stars can appear as if a matter of minutes for an appropriately configured Starfish brain.
Even once the Starfish were given FLT technology (from the Soamata) they continued with a slow and methodical expansion. As the Starfish encounter new sentient races, they set about the task of directing cultural and even genealogical evolution towards uplifting the species into the PanDominion… or maybe something even greater.
It is not known how many Starfish colonies exist, though is it well understood that they have become a largely spaceborne species. In the last two millennia, the Starship are not known to have settled any new worlds in the territories explored by the PanDominion. Instead, the Starfish focus their efforts on developing other species.
The Starfish do not appear to be replicating, but neither are they in decline. Few Starfish seem to stay dead. While the Starfish have not confirmed the rumour, it is widely believed that they copy-upload and freeze their neural engrams on a periodical basis. Somewhere, it is said, lies a vast repository of Starfish minds. When a Starfish dies, their most recently saved engram is loaded into a new construct, and they are reborn. Or so it is said.
The political structure of the Starfish is completely unknown, outside of its UGP representation. For the past 800 years, the Starfish representative to the UGP has been simply called “Entity 5101-3209-1123-7912-8771” Given that this representative’s construct has changed hundreds of times, no one is sure if it is the same individual or a replacement. Whatever the case, this representative speaks on behalf of all Starfish, and all Starfish follow “E5101’s” edicts.
Pan Dominion scientists have determined that the Starfish did not evolve in the arms of the Galaxy that make up by the Pan Dominion. It is theorized that their homeworld lies somewhere deep towards the Galactic Core, if it still exists at all.
However, the Starfish have a primary world near the Hadron Sector. It is the thought this world was colonised by the Starfish during the reign of the Confederacy, or possibly before. The closest translation of the Starfish name of the world is “Planetary Body Four of Ten, Consisting of Peaceful Curved Waves of Possibility Nodes.”
Originally an ocean world Is now considered a unified living construct in its own right. The entire planet’s ecosystem has been adjusted and enhanced so that every living being is merged into supermassive consciousness engine. The purpose of this engine has not been revealed. Some claim it is the technical equivalent of ‘ascension’ for the Starfish, while others suggest it may be the living repository for Starfish copy-upload engrams. When asked, the Starfish simply state: “Mentvalidi - everything that can be sentient, should be sentient.”
Access to the Starfish Home World is restricted. The Starfish has a significant planetary defence network. No one has been foolish enough to attempted to test it.
No species within the Pan Dominion appears to have a beef the Starfish. How can you hold a grudge against impeccably logical, unbiased beings who see all points of view concurrently? That said, pockets of misfits accuse the Starfish of being interfering parents and of perpetrating cultural arrogance.
The Starfish and Soamata have a particularly close relationship. When these two species first met, the Pan Dominion was in its infancy. Each species could not be more different, yet both possessed strengths the other did not. The Sonata were beings of great mental ability and psi powers while the Starfish were powerhouses of techno-logic and philosophy. Yet both sought the same goal: the enhancement and unification of all intelligence species in the galaxy. While the two species remain unique from each other in how they implement their goals, each as grown to have a clear respect.
The Teraborg are openly confused by the Starfish. From a Tyraborg’s perspective, it is difficult to reconcile the Starfish pacifism, with the corresponding efficiency and technological prowess. It is no secret the Teraborg seek to gain proprietary Starfish cybernetic technologies for themselves.
Humanity currently has a very close relationship with the Starfish. The Starfish were the species that first encountered and then sponsored the uplifting of humanity into the Pan Dominion. They continue to be deeply engaged in human development, both providing technological resources and mentoring. Most recently, the Starfish has been involved in the rebuilding of the human resources after the events in the Lantern. Even so, some questions are being asked as the Starfish’s ongoing blockade of the Lantern.