8FOLD/META: Orphans of Mars: Fact File, v 1.1
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Sun Apr 6 18:41:25 PDT 2014
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FACT FILE ............................ V1.1
UPDATED ........................ April 2014
 The Genetics War
 Cultural Norms
 Earth Colony
 Story Guide
 THE GENETICS WAR
"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
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 and Danalee the assassin.
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.
 CULTURAL NORMS
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
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 profess to 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.
 PHYSIOLOGY AND APPEARANCE
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 "tenday".
 EARTH COLONY
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
Ages are given in Martian years (not quite two of our years), as of
the time of their landing. First (and in some cases, last) appearances
are provided in brackets after the character's name.
DEAD ON THE FIRST DAY
Blassa [Journey Into # 12]: 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 [Journey Into # 12]: the twin of Soola, renown for her prowess
with a beam pistol, devoured by a tyrannosaurus rex. Aged 13.
Garaka [Journey Into # 12]: 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.
Soola [ Journey Into # 12]: the twin of Chell, murdered by Ress,
seemingly out of spite. Aged 13.
THE TWELVE WHO SURVIVED
Danalee [Orphans of Mars # 5]: an assassin who never meets a problem
head-on if she can circumvent it. Friend to Quasha. Wields a short
sword, Dart, and a beam pistol, Arrow. Aged 16.
Fennisa [To Bell The Cat # 1]: called Fenn. A dancer of songs who
finds herself on a planet with little need for either. Aged 12. The
second-youngest survivor, after Ress.
Jarissy [Journey Into # 12; died Orphans of Mars # 5]: a lively and
boisterous woman, fond of drink, of wenches, of battle, and of her
long-mourned lucky cudgel. Aged 19 when she died in battle with the
Kellin [Journey Into # 12]: a naturalist by training, pressed into
service as an all-purpose scientist. The sister of Ress. Aged 15.
Lask [Orphans of Mars # 2]: 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 [Journey Into # 12]: 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, but capable of fierce will and violent wrath.
Master of the long spear and arrows. Aged 14.
Petara [Journey Into # 12]: 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 Oathbreaker [Orphans of Mars # 1]: the second Imperatrix of
Earth Colony, the one-eyed hero of the Battle of the Last Day. Dark,
moody, proud, envious. She is bound by two oaths. One, to prevent
suffering in animals. The second, sworn upon her blade Thirteen and
now broken, to ensure they never number less than that: the twelve of
them, and Thirteen. Aged 21.
Ress [Journey Into # 12]: 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 do, 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 [Orphans of Mars # 3]: 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
(And two yet unnamed.)
 STORY GUIDE
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
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!"
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"
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
Orphans of Mars # 3, "Puppets and Poison"
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"
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.
Orphans of Mars # 5, "Sisters of Battle"
Viewpoint: Kellin; Danalee
Danalee, Quasha, and Jarissy set out to capture a raptor for study.
They are ambushed by the old rex, and while they succeed in driving it
off (slicing off the fingers of its left claw), Jarissy sustains a
fatal blow and dies.
Orphans of Mars # 6, "Let the Dawn Decide!"
Nerrine refuses to grant Quasha's wish for death, and Quasha invokes
the ancient rites of combat. All suspect Nerrine will be killed in the
battle, and attempt to persuade her to give in to Quasha's request.
Ress sobs over Jarissy's death, perhaps in an attempt to further
manipulate Nerrine, who in response first beats and then rapes her. At
dawn, Nerrine faces Quasha in battle. To the surprise of all but
Nerrine, she defeats Quasha and condemns her to live. Nerrine and all
assembled swear to kill the old rex, and thus avenge Jarissy.
Mighty Medley # 1, "Up To Their Necks In It"
Viewpoints: Quasha and Danalee
Quasha and Danalee hide from a dinosaur in a pile of dung, and bicker
about which of them is to blame.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2013, 2014 TOM RUSSELL
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