The Etamui inhabit a variety of stations in orbit around the G-type star Etamu, as the five planets (Eena, Isithixo, Lagua, Sharbai, and Hrabanaz) are inhospitable to human settlement, and anyway, who needs planets when you can engineer a perfect living environment on a space station?
That’s the basic Etamui philosophy: Human ingenuity can improve on anything the natural universe has to offer, and the next step in evolution is for the species to take its advancement into its own cybernetically enhanced hands. Human flesh is limited; technology can enlarge the human experience and assist in becoming more than human, evolving beyond the restrictions of meat and bone. This Transhumanist belief that pervades the Etamui applies to bodies, minds, societies, and environment alike – even souls, for those superstitious individuals who believe in such things.
They’ve been working on this evolutionary process for generations, now, and Etamui research produces the most advanced tech of all the settlements. Everyone is modified to better fit their work and lifestyle; trends in cosmetic mods build on top of the functional or occupational mods. This has led to something of a strict class division, where children (organically-born or machine-born) are further engineered for the jobs that best suit their genome makeup; people are encouraged to combine their genes in ways that will produce optimally specialized offspring.
The Four Cultures
The Etamui can be categorized into four main cultures: SciDevs, ProdOps, Gawans, and Glitches.
SciDevs live primarily on Celestial Station (the inhabitants of which are often called “Celests”), specifically on the Research & Development ring that revolves around the central column of the station. They are the intellectual class, doing the research and development work. Some are artists or musicians using or developing technology to express their creative process. Others are medical experts advancing techniques to install cybermods or biomods into human organisms. Still more are virtual reality programmers, cybernetic devs, and engineers.
ProdOps also primarily live on Celestial Station in the Production ring and the Facilities ring. They’re the working class, doing skilled labor and hands-on work. They are technicians, repair, maintenance, and public works employees. They are lab techs, nurses, and can also be artists or performers, though in a more physical or visceral capacity than the SciDev artists.
Gawans live on the Gawa Forge Cluster, a networked series of stations, refineries, and ships at the Gawa Asteroid Belt. They are miners, cargo pilots, laborers, refinery operators, and industry workers. They face more risks to health and safety than the Celests and they know it. The Gawans sometimes view the Celests as soft or self-indulgent or stuck-up, but they all view Celestial Station as an entirely different reality than life in the Gawa Belt. Some of the Gawans operate predominantly on smaller outposts by one of the planets, mining the resources on the mineral-rich planetary bodies, but are still considered Gawans (or “Forgers” as some prefer, to avoid the Belt-centric terminology) and have more in common with the people of the Forge Cluster than they do with any Celest. Gawans tend to be less hyperspecialized than the SciDevs or ProdOps in their modifications, due to the harsher conditions of going out into the Belt and planets.
Glitches are those outside the Etamui social structure. Many of them live on Celestial Station, hidden in abandoned sectors, or areas under construction, or in storage units, or in the lesser-used tubes that connect the rings. Sometimes they are SciDevs or ProdOps or even Gawans who’ve opted out of the role they were assigned by their genetics, and were unable to afford the biomods and cybermods necessary to adapt them to their preferred work. Others are the descendants of those who opted out of the system, born into the cracks and dregs of society without the in-utero modifications or early childhood mods or instruction and training that would allow them entry into Celest society. Some are deliberate rebels, some are criminals, and some are outcasts or rejects from society for any number of perceived “defects” that they didn’t have the funds or willingness to correct. There are biohackers and rogue cybermodders here in the tunnels, so Glitches usually still have mods… they’re just less safe, less polished, and more experimental than the SciDev administered tech.
Of course, not everyone agreed with the extravagant modification of the human form and function. Early on in the establishment of Celestial Station, a number of people left to create their own settlement, preserving their humanity in its more organic, natural state. We’ll talk about them in a later post: the Nurani.