8FOLD: Orphans of Mars Fact File v. 1.0

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Sun Nov 10 08:21:16 PST 2013

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 FACT FILE ............................ V1.0


[1] The Genetics War
[2] Cultural Norms
[3] Earth Colony
[4] Story Guide


"Through brutal tactics and aggressive terraforming, the Daughters of Mars had driven their parent species to the brink of extinction; the iron oxide bomb did the rest.  Orphans by their own hands, masters of a dead planet, and sterile from birth, they now turn their intellects-- vast, cool, and unsympathetic-- towards other planets, in search of some strange new destiny..." - JOURNEY INTO # 12

The fertile and green planet, Mars, was home to two advanced humanoid species. Each had but one sex and one gender, but could still reproduce sexually with members of its own species. They also could mate with the other species, giving birth to a sterile hybrid race, called the Daughters of Mars.

These Daughters were bred for specific purposes: slave labor, soldiers, conversation pieces, prostitutes, and artists. Few among the cruel Mothers considered them their legitimate offspring, but rather as things that they owned, bought, sold, gave away, or discarded. Most Daughters were not even given names, and they had few rights in the theocracy that officially considered them blasphemous aberrations.

But such systematic abuse and cruelty could not last. Revolts broke out over the generations, often among the soldiers and gladiators, fanning finally into a full-scale war: the Genetics War.

It was a bloody and genocidal affair. The Daughters did not aim to claim territory, or enfranchisement: they only wanted to exterminate the two species that had given them birth. Likewise, the High Imperatrix in the White City wanted the aberrations wiped out. There could be no chance of peace, compromise, or settlement for the warlike Martians.

The fighting lasted for twenty Martian years (roughly forty of our years). It was a war fought in the battlefields where military heroes such as Garaka, Jarissy, and Quasha made their name. It was fought in the shadows, by the double-agent Petara and her spies, chief among them Lask the empath.

It soon became a bloody war of stalemate and attrition. The Mothers could absorb the losses, especially after the White City instituted mandatory population growth. Their numbers fluctuated from year to year, while the sterile Daughters could only see their numbers go down. It was this very fact that nurtured a great nihilism in the Daughters, and gave them the crucial edge. The Mothers were fighting for the future of countless generations, but the Daughters had no future to fight for. They could ruin the planet, make it a hell, make it so it would not sustain any life.

And thus the war moved to the realm of science. The fearsome Terraforming Corps began their ghastly work, destroying farmland, lakes, and rivers. It starved Mothers and Daughters alike, and it was slow work. Too slow. The siege and capture of the White City gave the Daughters precious supplies and a little time, but they still found themselves fighting a war of attrition that they could not win.

But with the boundless technological resources of the White City, their scientists developed a terrible weapon that could at last end the war, but at a great cost. The iron oxide bomb would turn the entire planet to a dry ball of rust where nothing could ever grow again. It would turn the air into a thing of dust and fire, until, a few years hence, it would be reduced to a thin layer of carbon dioxide that could not support any life. It would also instantly kill almost everything on the planet.

Word leaked out of this terrible weapon, and the willingness of the Daughters to use it. The remaining armies of the Mothers marched on the White City in a final effort to dislodge the Daughters and destroy the bomb. The losses for the Daughters were catastrophic. When night came, the Mothers were in an extremely strong position for the following day's fighting. There is no doubt they would have easily taken the White City at dawn. If it was any other day, it would surely be recorded as a decisive victory for the Mothers.

But that day was the Last Day, for before the sun rose the next morning, the bomb was ready, and activated. A few cities, the great White City the chief among them, weathered the blast intact. Everything else was ash and fire. Each day after, scout teams were sent out to find and kill any Mothers left alive. Few were found, and those few swiftly dealt with.

Thus came to an end the terrible Genetics War. But not an end to the Daughters, who took to the stars, to find peaceful green planets where they could live out the rest of their days and enjoy the freedom they had won at so desperate a cost.


The Daughters, like their Mothers, were highly religious, warlike, and authoritarian. Troublemakers and nonconformists were treated with scorn at best and execution at worst. To some members of Earth Colony, it is deeply baffling, if not disconcerting, that the apostate Petara is still alive.

The power to command is invested in an Imperatrix, whose word is absolute. The Imperatrix is neither elected (they have no formal concept of democracy) nor inherited. One simply declares themselves Imperatrix, and if the goddess means it to be, they are. If the goddess doesn't mean for it to be, they're not, or soon will not be. The seizure of power is thus legitimized, or illegitimated, retroactively. However, an Imperatrix that does not have the support of those she commands is likely to find herself usurped, replaced, or worse.

They are deeply concerned with honor, and one's honor is tied to one's life. When one is dishonored, they are expected to end their lives, and do so willingly. Part of this might be that life is regarded cheaply by the Daughters, who tend towards melancholy and nihilism.

The Daughters have little concept of family life and generally put little stock in the softer sorts of emotions that can't be tested in battle. But tenderness seems to crop up among sisters, who are, after all, the only real family they've ever had.

Clothing varies but tends towards skin-tight body suits and armor. Loose flowing robes are not to be found.


The Daughters are similar in appearance to rather tall human females, with height averaging between six and seven feet. Skin colour ranges from a light pink to a dark reddish-brown; hair is almost always black. Blonde hair (like Nerrine's) or white (like Ress's) are extremely rare and considered sexually attractive.

All eyes are yellow in colour, and glow in the dark. Eye-glow is a component of communication used to convey emphasis and tone.

The Daughters have two "throats"-- that is, two narrow esophaguses in a single neck. Both lead to the same stomach, and no one is quite sure what purpose this serves.

Teeth are sharply pointed for tearing flesh. Many Martians prefer eating fresh kills. Blood has an intoxicating effect similar to alcohol and is imbibed often.

The Daughters age and reach maturity at about the same rate as we do, but because their year lasts 687 days, their numerical age is roughly half of that of a human. So, Ress, who is approaching her tenth birthday at the time Earth Colony is founded, is somewhere between 18 and 19 human years of age; Petara, the oldest member of Earth Colony at 30, would be a human in her fifties. Culturally, a Daughter is considered an adult, and invested with all the responsibilities and privileges that entails, upon her tenth birthday.


Most of the expeditionary force sent to set up Earth Colony died within a few hours of leaving their ship, completely unprepared for the massive and deadly beasts that held dominion over it sixty five million of our years ago. Only twelve of their number survived the first day.

Ages are given in Martian years (not quite two of our years), as of the time of their landing.


Blassa: a member of Garaka's scouting team, remembered only for her radio, which needed to be retrieved so that the White City could be warned that Earth was uninhabitable.

Chell: the twin of Soola, renown for her prowess with a beam pistol, devoured by a tyrannosaurus rex. Aged 13.

Garaka: the first Imperatrix of Earth Colony, a great commander during the Genetics War, wife to the comely Nerrine. She lead a scouting party comprised of the bulk of their military strength and were attacked by some dinosaurs. Only Nerrine escaped. Aged 25.

Soola: the twin of Chell, murdered by Ress, seemingly out of spite. Aged 13.


Jarissy: one of two true warriors left. A lively and boisterous woman, fond of drink, of wenches, of battle, and of her long-mourned lucky cudgel. Aged 19.

Kellin: a naturalist by training, pressed into service as an all-purpose scientist. The sister of Ress. Aged 15.

Lask: the empath, formerly chief among Petara's spies on Mars. Like all empaths, part of her brain was removed and replaced by a machine that allows her to taste, smell, and feel the emotions of others, but leaves her unable to recognize the presence of her own. Distrusted, hated, and ostracized by most of the others. Armed with six boomerangs, with three strapped to each thigh. Aged 15.

Nerrine: the third and present Imperatrix, once the prize whore of the pleasure-moon of Deimos, widow of Garaka. A renown physical beauty, considered by the others to be weak, frail, easily-manipulated. Master of the long spear and arrows. Aged 14.

Petara: the apostate, former spymaster of the White City (though few among the twelve know this), despised by most of the others for her godlessness and vegetarianism. Everything she says seems tinged with sarcasm and snark. Considered by some to be Nerrine's puppet-master. By far the oldest of them, aged 30.

Quasha: the second Imperatrix of Earth Colony, the one-eyed hero of the Battle of the Last Day. Dark, moody, envious of Nerrine's power. She is bound by two oaths. One, to prevent suffering in animals. Two, sworn upon her blade Thirteen, to ensure they never number less than that: the twelve of them, and Thirteen. Aged 21.

Ress: sister to Kellin, fond of manipulation towards her own mysterious ends. She strangled both of her mothers as a child, killed Soola, seduced her own sister, and considers herself instrumental in placing Nerrine as Imperatrix. She hates Petara and Lask more than the other Daughters, and is actively working towards their demise. Aged 9, but nearly 10, at which point she will be considered an adult. Crack shot with a beam pistol.

Tandra: the mistress of beasts. She trains animals to serve as her weapons, though the bond forged between them runs deeply and, like Quasha, she cannot abide their suffering. On Earth Colony, she has begun her work with a newborn triceratops. Aged 24.

(And four yet unnamed.)


Journey Into # 12, "The Orphans of Mars!"
Viewpoint: Ress; Nerrine

Shortly after landing on Earth, Garaka leads a large scouting party out into the world, leaving thirteen others behind on the ship. After they fail to return, and at Ress's instigation, a small group comprising Ress, Kellin, Jarissy, Soola, and Chell venture out. They are attacked by a tyrannosaurus rex who eats Chell. Ress kills Soola in the confusion and puts out the rex's right eye with her beam pistol.

Ress, Kellin, and Jarissy return to the ship. Nerrine, the sole survivor of Garaka's party, returns, intent on ending her life in punishment for cowardice. Ress convinces her to stay her hand.

Orphans of Mars # 1, "Imperatrix Rex!"
Viewpoint: Nerrine

Quasha declares herself Imperatrix and leads a hunting party comprising herself, Nerrine, Ress, and Jarissy. Not content to hunt smaller dinosaurs, Quasha sets her sights on a herd of Alamosaurus, who don't seem to notice their fervent attacks. Throughout this embarrassing debacle, Ress pushes Nerrine towards the realization that Quasha's leadership is going to get them all killed. Nerrine quietly declares herself Imperatrix, much to Quasha's chagrin.

Orphans of Mars # 2, "The Savage Song of Thirteen"
Viewpoint: Quasha

Still stewing over the abrupt end of her stint as Imperatrix, Quasha rashly swears an oath to protect all twelve of them from dying. She, Jarissy, and Lask escort Kellin on a science expedition. They are ambushed by a pack of raptors but drive them off after a fierce skirmish.

Orphans of Mars # 3, "Puppets and Poison"
Viewpoint: Ress

Ress has been pushing Jarissy to make solo excursions outside the ship. Jarissy returns from one such adventure having been poisoned and nearly at death's door. Kellin discovers an antidote but it requires a certain plant near the raptor's ambush point. Nerrine, Lask, and Ress go forth, careful to hide their presence from the enemy. Nerrine orders Ress to actually retrieve the sample. The raptors make their presence known, and Nerrine and Lask seem to abandon Ress. She is terrified until Nerrine reveals that they have climbed up a tree; Ress does the same. They return with the plant and Jarissy is cured. Nerrine reveals to Ress later that she knew that Ress was responsible for Jarissy's condition, and that the next time she put someone in danger, Nerrine will leave her to die.

Orphans of Mars # 4, "The Egg Thieves"
Viewpoint: Lask

Nerrine, Quasha, Ress, and Lask go on an expedition to retrieve some triceratops eggs. En route they pass through raptor territory and are attacked. Savage fighting ensues. By the time they reach their query, it begins to rain. Quasha attacks and kills the mother triceratops while the others steal the eggs.


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