Lupastrids

The Lupastrids are one of the more widespread forms of natural sapient starcraft known. Of such beings, Lupastrids are the most often to be claimed to be artificial- to which the Lupastrids respond with requests for duels. Lupastrids enjoy space battles, especially spectacular ones- some have testified that a starship exploding is the only thing that stimulates all of their senses at once. However, they are extremely good at minimizing casualties. Lupastrids are masters of pinpoint disabling spacecraft, and show this off when pressed- for an example from history, a well-reknowned pirate battleship dueling with a cruiser-scale Lupastrid once found itself completely without weaponry, engines, or even a non-bulkhead outer hull with no other damage.

This begs the question of how Lupastrids developed such battle prowess. Lupastrids organize themselves into prides, bands, and clans- and fighting between these is extremely common, though generally nonlethal. These groups tend to go on long, meandering journeys on their own- occasionally trading members and weapons fire with other groups they meet (occasionally including non-Lupastrid spacecraft). Some Lupastrids speak of a dark past hunting down every last warfleet of an evil empire... but most say that these Lupastrids are simply looking for attention.

Lupastrid Self-Modification and Body Roles

Lupastrids are extremely adaptable, and change their bodies often. This includes both their interior and their exterior- Lupastrids have been known to be radically different in not only battle role (battleship to miner to carrier to explorer) but also bodyplan in the span of a few years. This is helped along by their multiple body layers, including malleable hull plating. Lupastrids occasionally produce an entire new full-scale Lupastrid body to transfer themselves into, often for the purpose of dueling with themself. Usually, though, Lupastrids produce fully-intelligent children.

Perhaps as a consequence of their propensity for self-modification, many Lupastrids also modify spacecraft belonging to others. Nearly always, this is with permission- though Lupastrids are known to become confused when spacecraft have no integral intelligence. Many Lupastrids specialize in some sort of spacecraft modification, and these are the Lupastrids most integrated into the other societies around them. In fact, these Lupastrids tend to have the most developed internal passages (rather than the on-demand maintenance passages of most Lupastrids), sometimes complete with amenities comparable to those of space stations. Some even integrate themselves with stations and constructs built by others, though this is a difficult and often permanent process. This is also a taboo, akin to fusing Lupastrids together into one body- though this is a rarer practice, nearly always considered the height of oddness by other Lupastrids.

Lupastrids are often divided on whether they should each be specialized for one task or if they should try to master many tasks. Many compartmentalize themselves into areas devoted to tasks, whether these are as disparate as railguns and ramscoops or as similar as lasers and grasers. A few give as much of their body over to one purpose as possible (often for the purpose of firepower), though this is most common in the largest clans where there can be a squadron for each task. Some build themselves out to accomplish, say, every support role available- from supply storage to construction to scouting. Most pick a happy medium, with enough support ability to rebuild themselves easily and with enough firepower to create pretty lights. However, a very few- usually the largest in one area- say none of these approaches are correct, and the proper path is to gather as many resources as possible to build themselves out into a vast omnipurpose ship. These often take an interest in the affairs of smaller beings, if only to get a chance to label themself as "the ship that's also a fleet admiral".

Lupastrid Body Structure

A Lupastrid's body has several defensive layers. First, a layer of dynamic malleable hull plating encloses the entire body and conceals weapons, sensors, and other protrusions. This layer can be fairly easily reshaped, though reshaping what lies beneath it to fit is more difficult. The second layer is a full covering of outer armor, complete with pockets for hangars and other places where the armor needs a semi-permanent hole. This layer is more difficult to shape, but most Lupastrids construct this armor out of innumerable small segments to make shaping it easier. Some Lupastrids also have defensive armor bands within their bodies of various types. These can be reforged to fit better, or sometimes even removed entirely. Finally, all but the tiniest Lupastrids have a shell of extremely strong internal armor around their most important parts- meaning a Lupastrid who is otherwise completely destroyed will still be functional enough to repair themself. This innermost layer is the most difficult to modify, meaning that the initial shape of a Lupastrid's inner armor may well determine their overall shape for centuries.

Lupastrid Reproduction

Lupastrids can produce children, usually by creating a fully-functional (if small) body and then transmitting a high-powered signal to its brains and reactors. Note that theoretically this means a Lupastrid could be produced in a wholly artifical manner. However, the "signature" of the parents (usually one to three, but occasionally an entire pride transmits at the same time) seems to play a major role in granting sapience- so very few attempts at doing this have been made. Lupastrids often find the concept of a constructed rather than born Lupastrid unnerving, and will generally not participate in such experiments. Lupastrid children learn and grow as most children do, despite the fact that they are warships scores of metres long. Lupastrid children most often take after their parents in bodyplan when they have the opportunity to change it (though many imitate the designs of other starships they see, whether in living experience or in works of media), meaning that a single Lupastrid group may well be composed of similar-looking spacecraft.

Lupastrid children also take after their parents in desire to blow things up. Luckily, Lupastrid children can be reined in fairly easily by their parents due to the fact that Lupastrids have faster than light communication- in fact, one of the fastest types known. They use this extremely often, both for communication and for sensing (they often analogize this to sight, and the impact of actual electromagnetic light to touch). Contingency communications move at the speed of light, because their method of communicating in the event of FTL failure is by modulating their energy output to produce patterns both of frequency and of light.

Lupastrid Senses

Lupastrids have a few major senses, and some seem to delight in being confusing with their descriptions of these senses. Chief among them is the description of acceleration as a type of sound, though this is probably because very few Lupastrids actually have a sense of hearing- itself due to the fact that very few Lupastrids have modified themselves to an extent that allows them to land on planets with atmospheres. The most familiar is probably the description of "tasting space" to determine the particulate composition of interplanetary dust, though the common appended description of how said dust "smells like it's positively charged solar wind trapped in a planetary magnetic field" or somesuch returns most to a sense of confusion. They usually describe light on the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of a sense of touch, while sight is reserved for the readings of or communication using FTL sensors.

Lupastrid Culture

Lupastrids have a fairly uniform culture, despite their extremely wide range. This is largely due to inertia- Lupastrids have varied attitudes on the value of tradition, but the wider cultural rules of the Lupastrids seem quite comfortable for them. Most Lupastrids claim allegiance to a pride, band, or clan; though "prides of one" are fairly common as well. Family is likewise important if fluid, with many Lupastrids switching between birth family, several families of friends, or an adult family of lovers occasionally. These families are usually on the pride scale, roughly corresponding to a squadron, though there are many band-sized families and a few clan-sized ones.

Lupastrids take oaths fairly seriously, though they often interpret said oaths as needed to make them more "fun". As a consequence, oaths between Lupastrids are often long and precise... which simply makes the game more complex. Oaths are very occasionally broken, but the expectation for a broken oath is for the offender to take on a stricter, less advantageous, or less fun oath without complaint. Because of the oaths, Lupastrids also occasionally join into organizations that have a rough similarity to polities, corporations, or militaries. These are nearly always taken seriously when performing duty for them, but treated as jokes elsewhere. Still, these organizations are fairly long-lived- though most older ones embrace the joke.

Lupastrid FTL

The FTL travel systems of Lupastrids vary, including every type used commonly on other ships and then some. However, Lupastrids are rare among starfaring spaceborn beings in that their FTL drives are not something they have naturally- rather, a Lupastrid child will have its FTL drive installed after it becomes sapient. This has two main reasons. First, "standard" Lupastrid FTL drives are actually a reverse engineering of their own natural FTL sensors. Second, Lupastrids consider it advantageous to put off installing FTL drives for as long as possible- supposedly this hones the senses. Because of this, Lupastrids maintain more of a separation between themselves and their FTL drives than many starfaring spaceborn beings and nearly all starcraft.

The Ecumene